The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept and publish Godswill Akpabio’s name as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Akwa Ibom North-West District for the 2023 elections, the Nations newspaper has reported.
Penpushing reports that, the judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, in the judgement held that the electoral body acted illegally by refusing to accept and publish Akpabio’s name since it was sent to the election commission by the All Progressives Congress(APC).
The judgement emphasized that, the electoral commission is bound by the provisions of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act to publish only the personal particulars of the candidate of the first plaintiff for the Akwa-Iborn North/West Senatorial District elections in the person of the second plaintiff (Akpabio) as received from the first plaintiff.
Penpushing further reports that, the court held that the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) cannot publish any other name or particulars of any other candidate as the candidate of the party for the Akwa – lbom North/West Senatorial District elections, except as nominated, submitted and received from the first plaintiff ,All Progressives Congress(APC).
The judge declared that, Nwite pointed out that in his view, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the defendant cannot choose and impose a candidate on a political party ,and equally faulted the commission’s claim that its refusal to monitor the primary poll conducted by the party on 9 June which led to Akpabio’s emergence was because it had supervised the one conducted on May 27.
“The fact that INEC chose to monitor an illegal primary and produce a report, cannot give it legitimacy. INEC cannot unilaterally pronounce a primary conducted by a political party or a candidate submitted to it as invalid, without a valid court order’, Nwite said.
Penpushing also reports that, the judge held that there is no law empowering the electoral commission to refuse to accept and publish the name of a candidate sent to it by a political party without an order of the court.
The judgement emphasized that the consequences of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC”s) failure to monitor the legitimate primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom North-West District, cannot be visited Akpaibo who was the candidate.
“The consequences of the defendant’s (INEC’s) failure to monitor the legal primary conducted on June 9 by the first plaintiff, cannot be visited on the plaintiffs. The INEC lacks the vires (powers) to usurp or assume the power of the court to disqualify a candidate.
Penpushing reports that, he stated that there were two primary polls conducted by the party for the Akwa – Ibom North/West Senatorial District – one by the National Working Committee ( NWC) of the party, and the other by Augustine Ekanem, an illegal factional Chairman of the party in Akwa – Ibom State.
The judge pointed out that despite being invited and notified, the electoral umpire chose not to attend the validly conducted primary of the party for the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, where Akpabio was elected and nominated, but decided to term the primary illegal
Penpushing further reports that, the judge, consequently, ordered the electoral body to publish the name and particulars of Akpabio as the candidate of the party for the Akwa-Iborn North/West Senatorial District in the 2023 general polls.
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