The supreme court has affirmed the election of Godswill Akpabio as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom north-west senatorial district.
Akpabio was in the race for APC’s presidential ticket but dropped his bid for another candidate.
Before the APC presidential primary, Udom Ekpoudom, former deputy inspector-general of police (DIG), won the APC primary for Akwa Ibom north-west senatorial district.
A parallel primary was also conducted and won by Ekperikpe Ekpo, but was later cancelled over irregularities.
Meanwhile, a rerun reportedly conducted on June 8 was said to have produced Akpabio as the winner.
However, INEC excluded the APC from its list of candidates published in June. Festus Okoye, INEC spokesperson, had 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 persons.
Consequently, the APC and Akpabio approached the court to seek redress.
Delivering judgment in September 2022, Emeka Nwite, the trial 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.
Dissatisfied with the trial court’s decision, Ekpoudom went to the court of appeal. The court of appeal, in its judgment delivered on November 14, quashed the judgment of the trial court and sacked Akpabio as the candidate of the party.
Delivering judgment in Akpabio’s appeal on Friday, Jan. 20, a five-member panel of the supreme court held that the issue of candidacy is an internal party affair and consequently strips the trial court and appellate court of the jurisdiction to hear the suit.
Akpabio’s 10-ground appeal was allowed.