The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, declined to void the primary election that produced Senator Godswill Akpabio as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, for Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial District in the 2023 general elections.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Donatus Okorowo, dismissed a suit that was filed by a factional candidate of the party, Chief Udom Udo Ekpoudom, as lacking in merit.
Ekpoudom, who emerged from a parallel primary election that was conducted by a faction of the APC in the state, had approached the court, praying it to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to recognize him as flag-bearer of the APC for the Akwa Ibom State North/West Senatorial district.
The APC was cited as a Defendant in the suit.
Meanwhile, in his judgement on Friday, Justice Okorowo, upheld a preliminary objection the APC filed to challenge the competence of the suit.
APC had argued that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the suit which it said bordered on the domestic affair of a political party.
Aside from challenging the locus standi of the plaintiff to Institute the action, Justice Okorowo, upheld APC’s argument that non-joinder of Akpabio as a party in the suit, rendered it incompetent.
More so, the court said there was no evidence before it to establish that the primary election that produced the Plaintiff, was backed by the National Working Committee, NWC, of the APC.
The court held that any party primary organized by a state chapter of a political party remained invalid.
The APC was represented in the suit by Umeh Kalu, SAN, Valentine Offia and Adekunle Kosoko, while the Plaintiff was represented by Victor Odjeme.
It will be recalled that the court had in another judgement it delivered on September 15, ordered INEC to recognize and publish Akpabio’s name.
Justice Emeka Nwite who made the order held that the electoral body was wrong by refusing to accept Akpabio’s name when it was submitted to it by the APC.
Justice Nwite held that INEC could not publish any other name or particulars of any other candidate as the candidate of the APC for the Akwa – lbom North/West Senatorial District elections, “except as nominated, submitted and received from the first plaintiff (APC)”.
He faulted INEC’s claim that it refused to monitor the primary election that produced Akpabio as flag-bearer of the APC for the Senatorial contest.
Justice Nwite held that proof of evidence before the court established that Akpabio who is a former governor of the state, was validly nominated as candidate of the APC for the Akwa – Ibom North/West Senatorial District, having emerged from a primary election the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, conducted on June 9, 2022.
According to the court, INEC, was bound by provisions of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act, to publish only the personal particulars of the candidate of the 1st plaintiff (APC) for the Akwa-Iborn North/West Senatorial District election in the person of the 2nd plaintiff (Akpabio), as received from the 1st plaintiff.