The hope of two candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) participating in the 2023 general elections was dashed by the courts yesterday.

While a Federal High Court in Uyo, nullified the candidacy of Mr. Akanimo Udofia as APC’s governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, similarly sacked former Niger Delta Minister and former Akwa Ibom Governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio as candidate of the party for the Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District election.

In the Federal High Court judgment delivered by Justice Agatha Okeke, the court held that Udofia was unlawfully nominated by the APC and subsequently nullified his emergence as the party’s flag bearer in the forthcoming election.

Former presidential aide, Senator Ita Enang had dragged the APC to court for declaring Udofia as candidate of the APC for the Akwa Ibom governorship election.

Following the legal tussle, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declined to list the name of Udofia as APC’s candidate for the Akwa Ibom governorship election.

Enang amongst others had claimed that Udofia did not take part in all phases of the APC’s gubernatorial primary election, therefore could not be lawfully declared as winner of the guber primary, adding that Udofia was not a member of the APC, having contested the primary election of the People’s Democratic Party, few days before he was announced as APC’s candidate.

Enang further told the court that the purported primary that produced Udofia was not monitored by INEC hence should be voided.

However, delivering judgment, Justice Okeke agreed with the plaintiff that Udofia did not satisfy the provisions of the electoral laws, which stipulates that he ought to have been a member of the APC for at least 30 days before the nomination.

The court further held that the waiver Udofia allegedly got from the APC was not signed by, “any known persons.”

Justice Okeke subsequently nullified the election and ordered that a fresh primary be conducted within 14 days.

According to the judgment Udofia should be excluded from participating in the fresh primary.

Meanwhile, the appellate court yesterday, citing similar unlawful nomination sacked Akpabio as APC’s senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial seat

The three-man panel in their judgment set aside a Federal High Court decision which had recognised Akpabio as the authentic candidate of the APC.

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Danlami Senchi the court held that Akpabio failed to file a proof of arguments within the time provided by the rules.

Besides, Justice Senchi stated that Akpabio did not participate in the May 27, valid primary monitored by INEC.

The said primary election had produced the appellant, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom, while Akpabio claimed to have emerged from a second primary conducted by the APC on June 9.

Due to the legal tussle INEC again declined to list any candidate for the APC in the senatorial election, a development that forced Akpabio to drag the electoral umpire to court.

Amongst others he had contended that INEC cannot refuse to publish his name as submitted by his party as candidate of the APC for the Akwa Ibom North Senatorial seat.

But in the then ruling, the trial court held that INEC does not have powers to refuse to publish the name submitted to it by any political party for an election and subsequently ordered the commission to publish the name of Akpabio as the party’s candidate.

The lower court had also directed the electoral umpire to accept the former Akwa Ibom governor as the APC flagbearer, adding that the Commission acted illegally by refusing to accept and publish the Akpabio’s name when it was submitted to it by the APC as its candidate.

However, after voiding the candidacy of Akpabio yesterday, the appellate court ordered INEC to recognise Udom Ekpoudom as APC’s authentic candidate for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District.

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