The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has been
accused of plotting to get the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to substitute his name as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial rerun election.
According to the Elections Transparency Group (ETG) in statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, and signed by its Convener, Dr. Kazeem Adekunle, “Information available is to the effect that Senator Akpabio is plotting with INEC to substitute his name as the APC candidate for the Akwa Ibom North West rerun election, fearing he will lose. He was at INEC office on Monday, December 10, 2019 where he held closed door meetings with some top officials of the commission to substitute his name during the forthcoming rerun election.”
INEC will conduct rerun election in Essien Udim Local Government Area to determine the winner of the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial district between Senator Akpabio and Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was earlier declared winner my INEC but
the Appeal Court ordered a rerun in 90 days.
The ETG, which counseled INEC not to allow itself to be used to perpetrate illegality, said there were two options available to Senator Akpabio or anyone in his situation. He either resign as a minister as provided by the law or withdraw from the election.
“The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
is clear as to whether or nor Akpabio can stand for the election without resigning his appointment as minister. Section 66(1)(f) provides that ‘No person shall be qualified for election to the Senate or House of Representatives if he is a person employed in the public service of the Federation or of any State and has not resigned, withdraw or retired from such employment thirty days before the day of election.’
“The only condition in which a party can substitute its candidate in an election that is already ongoing is if the candidate dies as it happened in of Kogi State governorship election in 2015.
“It will therefore amount to the height of impunity and lawlessness for INEC to contemplate substitution of Senator Akpabio’s name or allow him to stand as candidate in the rerun election without resigning his appointment as a Minister.
“It is also our advice that since Senator Akpabio claims to be very popular, he should not be afraid to resign his appointment as Minister to face the rerun election.
“As for INEC, Nigerians and indeed, the entire world is watching.”