The Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja has overturned the decision of the Federal High Court in Abuja to remove Godswill Akpabio as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.
This was made in a ruling delivered by a three-judge panel presided over by Justice Danlami Senchi on Monday, stating that Akpabio failed to file a proof of arguments within the time frame specified by the rules.
The appellate court also ruled that Akpabio, as an APC presidential candidate, could not participate in the party’s valid primary held on May 27 and overseen by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which produced Udom Ekpoudom as a candidate.
A Federal High Court in Abuja had on September 22 asked electoral body, INEC to reinstate Senator Akpabio as APC’s candidate, being the candidate nominated by the party in the second primary of June 9.
The lower court had directed that INEC accepts the former Minister of Niger Delta as the APC flagbearer.
The court also ordered that INEC publish Akpabio’s name as APC senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North/West senatorial district in 2023, stating that the Commission acted illegally by refusing to accept and publish the former governor’s name when it was submitted to it by the APC as its candidate.
Justice Emeka Nwite who delivered judgment held 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 (NWC) on June 9, 2022.
The trial Judge faulted INEC for electing to monitor the May 27 primary, conducted by an illegal faction of the party led by Augustine Ekanem as against the June 9 primary authorized conducted by the APC NWC.