Wednesday, September 28, 2022

2023: INEC lists Akpabio as APC senatorial candidate, Lawan’s name missing

The senate president’s candidacy has been a subject of controversy in the past few months.

• September 20, 2022
Lawan and Akpabio
Godswill Akpabio and Ahmad Lawan

Following a court order, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has listed Godswill Akpabio as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District in the 2023 elections.

Mr Akpabio’s name was featured in the final list of candidates for Presidential, Senate, and House of Representatives seats, published by the electoral body and obtained by Peoples Gazette on Tuesday night. 

This came as the name of senate president Ahmad Lawan was missing as the candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District in the final list released by the commission. 

Mr Lawan’s candidacy has been a subject of controversy in the past few months. 

A former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Akpabio contested the 2022 APC presidential primary, but stood down for the party’s national leader and eventual winner, Bola Tinubu.

Prior to the presidential primary, Udom Ekpoudom, an erstwhile deputy inspector-general of police, had emerged as the party’s candidate in the primary, held in May 2022, and alleged to have been supervised by INEC officials in the senatorial district. 

However, a parallel primary election was said to have also been conducted and won by one 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 while the party immediately submitted his name to the electoral body. 

The development forced INEC not to accept Mr Akpabio’s name as the candidate for the constituency. 

While responding to the controversy that trailed the primary election, INEC spokesman, Festus Okoye, had said the commission was “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.”

INEC’s insistence forced the APC and Akpabio to approach the Federal High Court in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1011/2022 serving as plaintiffs to seek redress. 

Last week Thursday, Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court, held that INEC contravened the law when it refused to accept and publish Akpabio’s name, even though the APC had listed him as its candidate.

Justice Nwite declared that INEC, which served as the defendant, should publish the name of Mr Akpabio as the authentic candidate. 

Meanwhile, the electoral body did not publish the name of the candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District in the final list. 

Bashir Machina, winner of the APC primary for the seat, had been at loggerhead with Mr Lawan, who had contested for the party presidential primary but lost to Mr Tinubu.

The Gazette had reported how Mr Machina, according to a certified true copy of INEC’s report from May 28, won the election with 289 votes out of 300 delegates.

INEC on June 23, certified the document and did not mention Mr Lawan, the incumbent senate president who has been desperate to return to the senate on the same APC ticket.

A spokesperson for INEC did not immediately return a request seeking comments on why the commission refused to publish the name of candidate for the Yobe North Senatorial District.

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