THE Supreme Court has restored former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godwin Akpabio, as the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District.
The former minister who was in the race for the party’s presidential ticket but dropped his bid for another candidate was restored on Friday, January 20.
In Akpabio’s place, a court of appeal had earlier ordered INEC to recognise Udom Ekpoudom, a retired deputy inspector general of police, as the candidate of the party.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa of the apex court upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which in September last year granted verdict in favour of Akpabio.
Saulawa after reviewing the arguments canvassed by Akpabio said that his appeal was meritorious and therefore was allowed.
The judgment was on an appeal filed by Akpabio challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal to set aside his victory at the Federal High Court.
The Supreme Court in a unanimous judgment said each of the 10 issues formulated by the appellant was resolved in his favour, and against the respondent.
It held that the court below lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case, adding that whatever decision arrived at by the court amounted to nullity.
Recall that the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal had, on on November 14, 2022, set aside the judgment of Federal High Court Abuja, removing Akpabio as the APC candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.
A three-member panel of justices led by Justice Danlami Senchi held that Akpabio failed to file a proof of arguments within the time provided by the rules.
The panel further ruled that Akpabio, having contested the presidential primary of the APC, could not participate in the valid primary of the party held on May 27 and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission which produced Udom Ekpoudom as a candidate.
But Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court Abuja, had on September 22, 2022, ordered INEC to reinstate Akpabio as APC’s candidate, being the candidate nominated by the party in the second primary of June 9.
The trial court directed INEC to accept the former minister of Niger Delta as the APC flag bearer and directed INEC to publish Akpabio’s name as APC senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial District in 2023.
He noted that Akpabio was validly nominated as the Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial District candidate of the APC from the primary conducted by the party’s National Working Committee on June 9, 2022.
Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.