A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept the name of Godswill Akpabio as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom north-west senatorial district in 2023.
The court also directed INEC to publish Akpabio’s name as the candidate of the APC for Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Godswill Akpabio, former minister of Niger Delta a
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.
Prior to the presidential primary election on May 27, Udom Ekpoudom, a 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.
Despite all that, the commission said it is not under obligation to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties if there are questions over the validity of primaries throwing up such candidates.
Senator Akpabio then approached the court.
Delivering judgment on Thursday in the matter, Justice Emeka Nwite, held that INEC contravened the law when it refused to accept and publish Akpabio’s name, even though the APC had listed him as its candidate.
“I hereby declare that the defendant (INEC) publish the name of the 2nd plaintiff Akpabio as the authentic candidate,” the judge ordered.