The Supreme Court has restored former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godwin Akpabio as the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District.
The Court of Appeal judgment delivered on November 14, 2022, which voided his candidacy was overturned.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, the apex court upheld the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja which in September last year granted a verdict in favour of the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
Justice Saulawa after reviewing the arguments canvassed by Akpabio said that his appeal was meritorious and allowed.
In a lead judgment, Justice Saulawa held that the “appeal succeeds on merit and is allowed.”
The judgment was on an appeal filed by Akpabio challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal Abuja, which set aside his victory at the Federal High Court Abuja.
In arriving at the decision, the Supreme Court in a unanimous judgment said each of the 10 issues formulated by the appellant was resolved in his favour, and against the respondent.
The Supreme Court held that the lower court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case, adding that whatever decision arrived at by the court amounted to nullity.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal, Abuja had on November 14, 2022, set aside the judgment of Federal High Court Abuja, removing Akpabio as the APC candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.
A three-member panel of Justices led by Justice Danlami Senchi held that Akpabio failed to file a proof of arguments within the time provided by the rules.
The panel further ruled that Akpabio, having contested the presidential primary of the APC, could not participate in the valid primary of the party held on May 27 and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which produced Udom Ekpoudom as a candidate.
But Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court Abuja had on September 22, 2022, ordered the INEC to reinstate Akpabio as APC’s candidate, being the candidate nominated by the party in the second primary of June 9.
The trial court had directed INEC to accept the former Minister of Niger Delta as the APC flagbearer.
Justice Nwite also ordered INEC to 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 Nwite added 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 conducted by the APC NWC.