Former Senate minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, has withdrawn a case he filed in court challenging his loss at the National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 23.
His lawyer, Sunday Ameh, announced the withdrawal in court in Abuja on Friday. He did not give reasons for his decision.
Mr Akpabio had filed the case at the FCT High Court despite the fact that election disputes should be taken first to an election tribunal and not conventional courts. Regardless, judge of the FCT High Court granted the senator’s request to restrain parties involved in the case.
Following the order, reports went round that the court had restrained INEC from issuing issuing certificate of return to the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Chris Ekpenyong, in the election.
But on Friday, the judge, Valentine Ashi, denied restraining INEC, saying that he media publications overstretched the facts of the matter treated by his court.
According to Mr Ashi, the nature of the application brought by Mr Akpabio should have been clarified by the media or the lawyers who provided information to the media.
The judge explained that Mr Akpabio’s application contained a request for an order of mandamus restraining parties and allowing Mr Akpabio to judicially review the processes that resulted in the declaration of Mr Ekpenyong as winner of the senatorial election.
The request for permission to review the process was granted by the court. It was that request that was later interpreted to mean that the court granted a restraining order.
According to Ashi, the facts of the matter were twisted.
Mr Akpabio’s lawyer informed the court on Friday that his client had resolved to withdraw the court.
The lawyer representing the INEC, Tanimu Inuwa, told journalists that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the application since it is an election matter.
“When a person requests for the enforcement of his right through an order of mandamus, what it means is that once that request is granted, parties are to stay proceedings until that right has been enforced. That’s what it means,” Mr Inuwa explained.
INEC had declared Mr Ekpenyong, a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom, winner of the election, against the incumbent senator, Godswill Akpabio.
According to the result announced by the returning officer, Peter Oban, a professor, Mr Akpabio scored 83,158 votes, while Mr Ekpenyong scored 118,215 votes.
Before the announcement of the election result, Mr Akpabio had petitioned INEC, alleging that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, was considering reversing the announced cancellation of result from Obot Akara where Ekpenyong comes from.