A federal high court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept and publish the name of Godswill Akpabio as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom north-west senatorial district in 2023.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Godswill Akpabio, former minister of Niger Delta affairs, and Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi, had been listed by the APC as candidates for Yobe north, Akwa Ibom north-west, and Ebonyi south senatorial districts, respectively.
However, in the list published by INEC, Lawan, Umahi and Akpabio were said to have been excluded.The former minister was in the race for the party’s presidential ticket, but dropped his bid for another candidate.
Prior to the presidential primary election on May 27, Udom Ekpoudom, former deputy inspector-general of police (DIG), won the primary election for Akwa Ibom north-west senatorial district.
A parallel primary election was also conducted and won by Ekperikpe Ekpo, but was later cancelled over irregularities. A rerun conducted on June 8 was said to have produced Akpabio as the winner of the exercise.
Speaking on the development regarding the INEC list, Festus Okoye, INEC speokesperson, said the commission is not under obligation to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties if there are questions over the validity of primaries featuring such candidates. Consequently, the APC and Akpabio approached the court to seek redress.
Delivering judgment on Thursday, Emeka Nwite, the judge, held that INEC contravened the law when it refused to accept and publish Akpabio’s name, despite the fact that the APC had listed him as its candidate.
“I hereby declared that the defendant (INEC) publish the name of the 2nd plaintiff (Akpabio as the authentic candidate,” the judge ordered.