By Emmanuel Adeleke
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept and publish the name of Godswill Akpabio as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district in 2023.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Akpabio, and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, was listed by APC as its candidates for Yobe North, Akwa Ibom North West, and Ebonyi South senatorial districts, respectively.
However, in the list published by INEC, Lawan, Umahi and Akpabio were excluded.
The former minister was in the race for the party’s presidential ticket, but dropped his bid for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
On May 27, Udom Ekpoudom,a former Deputy Inspector-General of police (DIG), won the primary election for Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district.
A parallel primary election conducted was won by Ekperikpe Ekpo, but was later cancelled over irregularities.
A rerun conducted on June 8 was said to have produced Akpabio as the winner of the exercise.
Speaking on the list published by the electoral body, INEC Commissioner, Festus Okoye, said the commission is not under obligation to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties if there are questions over the validity of primaries featuring such candidates.
Consequently, the APC and Akpabio approached the court to seek redress.
Delivering judgement on Thursday, Justice Emeka Nwite, held that INEC contravened the law when it refused to accept and publish Akpabio’s name, despite the fact that the APC had listed him as its candidate.
“I hereby declared that the defendant (INEC) publish the name of the 2nd plaintiff, Akpabio, as the authentic candidate,” the judge ordered.