Senator Godswill Akpabio’s attempt to stop retired deputy inspector general of police, Udom Ekpoudom, from being the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State suffered a setback at a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday.
Justice D. Okorowo, in a response to a motion by Mr Ekpoudom, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to produce certified true copies of its report of the May 27 APC primary election for the Akwa Ibom North West District.
The court also ordered INEC to produce a letter or form from APC in which the party submitted the name of its candidate for the Akwa Ibom North West District, as well as the INEC calendar of political parties’ primaries.
The APC and Mr Akpabio, through their counsel, Umeh Kalu SAN, made a futile attempt to stop the court from granting Mr Ekpoudom’s motion. Mr Ekpoudom was represented by Victor Odjemu.
INEC recognises Mr Ekpoudom, and not Mr Akpabio, as the APC candidate for the district for the 2023 election, the commission having monitored the primary that produced Mr Ekpoudom.
But the APC has, however, refused to submit Mr Ekpoudom’s name to INEC as a candidate.
The APC is insisting on Mr Akpabio as its candidate, a situation which prompted Mr Ekpoudom to challenge the party in court.
INEC has been delaying to avail the plaintiff, Mr Ekpoudom, of the report of the primary and other relevant documents which he applied for as required by law.
The Electoral Act 2022 empowers INEC to reject candidates that emerge from party primaries that it did not monitor.
The matter has been adjourned to July 19, 2022 for hearing.
The INEC headquarters in Abuja, a few days ago, affirmed that Mr Akpabio is not the APC candidate in Akwa Ibom North West, and that the commission would not revisit the case.
If the court eventually admits as exhibit the INEC report which it ordered the commission to produce, Mr Akpabio’s dream of returning to the Senate in 2023 would have finally come to an end.
The former minister first contested the APC presidential primary but stepped down for Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, who emerged as the party’s presidential candidate.
Mr Akpabio’s activities may have contributed to the fractionalisation of the APC in Akwa Ibom State.
The APC, for now, does not have a governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom.