A Federal High Court sitting in Apo, Abuja, has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), not to issue certificate of return to any candidate in respect of the election to the office of the Senator, Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial election held on February 23, pending the determination of suit before it.
Justice Valentine Ashi gave the order on Friday in a suit filed by Senator Godswill Akpabio as the applicant.
The Independent National Electorial Commission (INEC) is the respondent in the suit with number FCT/HC/M/2680/19.
Senator Akpabio who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 23 National Assembly election had lost his senate return to represent the senatorial district, to Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
INEC had declared Ekpenyong, who was Akpabio’s deputy when he was governor, winner with 118,215 votes. Akpabio who polled 83,158 votes had rejected the result, alleging irregularities in the results collation process. The result was announced at the INEC headquarters in Uyo instead of Ikot Ekpene because of the alleged security threats in the area.
But Akpabio, who spoke on The Verdict, a live programme of Channels Television on Wednesday, said he would challenge Ekpenyong’s victory at the tribunal.
“As far as there is a mistake anywhere, you go to court and get your mandate. My mandate is somewhere waiting for me. My people know that I can’t fail an election,” the former Senate leader said.
In what marked the beginning of the court process he vowed to pursue, Akpabio, on Friday, filed an exparte motion dated February 28, 2019, with an affidavit deposed to by Daniel Michael Idoko, praying the court for leave to apply for “judicial review for the issuance of writ of Mandamus, prohibition, injunction and other declaratory reliefs against INEC.”
Akpabio also asked the court to direct INEC to stay further action “particularly further action in respect of issuance of certificate of return to any candidate in respect of the seat of senator representing Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial district on the account of election held on the 23rd February, 2019.”
The court in granting the order, said there was “some merit especially in regards to the need to keep things in status quo”
While adjourning the case till March 8, 2019, Justice Ashi directed the parties to first address the court on jurisdiction on the adjourned date.