INEC’s stand on Akpabio remains until, says Okoye

………Court Declares Akpabio Authentic Candidate For Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has restated it’s stand on Senator Godswill Akpabio from Akwa Ibom and that of Senate President Mohammed Lawan until it is served with a valid Court decision on the issue in contention.

Head of UNEC voter education and spokesman, Chief Festus Okoye in his response to the Court verdict on Akpabio said the Commission is not aware of any judgement and will need to study the verdict first before any pronouncement on such matter.

Chief Okoye and other INEC staff together with the Chairman, Prof Manhood Yakubu were guests on the Editor’s Forum, a programme of the Nigerian Guild of Editors held on Friday in Lagos.

As I talk to you now, I cannot comment on what I have not see as a lawyer. When we see the judgement, We will need such on the issue at hand and our decisions known”, Chief Okoye said.

Meanwhile, Hon Justice Emeka Nwite, of the Federal High Court 8 in Abuja, (Vacation Court), on Thursday, declared former Minister, Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the authentic candidate of the All Progressives’Congress ( APC), for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.

It also ordered the electoral umpire to immediately, publish the names and particulars of Senator Akpabio as the authentic candidate of the APC for the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, saying the INEC lacked the power to disqualify Akpabio, having emerged from a validly held primary of his party

Delivering a landmark judgement, Justice Nwite, noted that “The defendant couldn’t have picked nor choose for the Plaintiff whose name should be sent or published”

The court also held that “the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), can’t legitimize an illegal enterprise noting that The APC was in full compliance and has its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West District”

According to Justice Nwite, “INEC should not create a new criteria for qualification of candidates and cannot unilaterally pronounce an election invalid. It is for the court to do so not INEC. No law empowers INEC to reject a candidate nominated by a political party.
INEC isn’t an aspirant. INEC isn’t NWC of a party “

The court also declared that “the decision not to monitor a valid primary election held on June 9, 2022 is unlawful and the plaintiff has never been disqualified by a court. INEC therefore, lacks the power to disqualify Akpabio.”