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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to accept and publish the name of Godswill Akpabio as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial district in the forthcoming 2023 elections.
Justice Emeka Nwite, in his judgment, held that INEC acted illegally by refusing to accept and publish Akpabio’s name when it was submitted to it by the APC as its candidate.
He found 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 on June 9, 2022.
The judge said INEC “is bound by the provisions of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 to publish only the personal particulars of the candidate of the first plaintiff (APC) for the Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial district elections in the person of the second plaintiff (Akpabio) as received from the first plaintiff.”
He also declared 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.
Justice Nwite, therefore, ordered INEC to publish the name and particulars of Akpabio as the candidate of the APC for the Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial district in the 2023 general elections as nominated and submitted to it by the party.
The judgment was on the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1011/2022 filed and prosecuted for the APC and Akpabio by a team of lawyers which included Chief Umeh Kalu (SAN), Valentine Offia, Imo Akpan and Adekunle Kosoko.
INEC, the sole defendant was represented by Alhassan Umar (SAN).
Justice Nwite rejected INEC’s claim that it declined to monitor the primary conducted by APC on June 9, which produced Akpabio as the party’s candidate, because it had monitored the one conducted on May 27.
The judge faulted INEC for monitoring a primary conducted by an illegal faction of the party led by Augustine Ekanem against the one authorised and conducted by the APC National Working Committee.