The Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja has overturned the decision of the Federal High Court in Abuja to remove the former governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.
The development 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.
Meanwhile, Godswill Akpabio, has said he will approach the Supreme Court to seek redress over an Appeal Court judgement nullifying his election as the All Progressives Congress candidate for Akwa Ibom North West in the 2023 poll.
Akpabio, who is also the vice chairman of the APC presidential campaign council, said this in a statement on Tuesday in Uyo.
The judgment disqualifying Akpabio was made on Monday evening in the Federal Capital Territory.
“My attention has been drawn to the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, directing INEC to delist my name from its list as the APC senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District in the 2023 elections.
“It is instructive to mention that I was not a party in the said appeal, though orders were made against me and my interest.
“Whilst awaiting a copy of the said judgment to be made available to me and any other interested party, it is important to state that I am a lawyer by training and a law abiding citizen of this country and I am bound by our laws and judgments emanating from our courts including the one under reference.
“My lawyers on my advice and brief have commenced the scrutiny of the contents of the judgment as read, for the purposes of seeking appropriate legal redress. I am aware that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has the final say in these matters,” he said.
He added, “I therefore, strongly advise my supporters, APC members and all my constituents to remain calm and law abiding, as they continue their campaigns for the successes of the APC in Akwa Ibom North West, Akwa Ibom and Nigeria at large.”