2023: INEC may appeal court judgement on Akpabio
The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday said it might appeal the court judgement ordering it to accept and publish Godswill Akpabio’s name as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the 2023 Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial District election.
The commission however maintained that it won’t take a position until it receives a Certified True Copy of the court judgement.
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, had ordered INEC to accept and publish Akpabio’s name as the APC candidate for the Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial District election.
Delivering judgment, Justice Emeka Nwite, held that INEC’s refusal to accept and publish the name of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, was in contradiction with the law, having received the name from the APC as its valid candidate.
Nwite, who said that the electoral umpire acted illegally, said the commission lacked the power to have disqualified the 2nd plaintiff (Akpabio).
Justice Nwite found that Akpabio was validly nominated as the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District candidate of the APC from the primary conducted by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) on June 9, 2022.
The judge declared that INEC “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.
The judge also declared that INEC cannot publish any other name or particulars of any other candidate as the candidate of the APC for the senatorial district elections, “except as nominated, submitted and received from the first plaintiff (APC).”
Justice Nwite rejected INEC’s claim that it declined to monitor the primary conducted by APC on June 9, which produced Akpabio as the party’s candidate, because it had monitored the one conducted on May 27.
The judge faulted INEC for electing to monitor the May 27 primary conducted by an illegal faction of the party led by Augustine Ekanem as against the June 9 primary conducted by the APC NWC, an organ of the party authorised by law to conduct such primaries.
Speaking on a television programme on Thursday, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of, the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission would base its decisions on concrete evidence and on Certify True Copy of the said court judgement
He added that the commission does not rely on reports from the media.
“So as of today, the National commissioners and the chairman are not within the area of jurisdiction. So we have not received anything and we have not been served with anything where we are.
“When we get the Judgement, we will look at the specifics of the judgement and have a clear understanding of what transpired and what is expected of us and then we will study the judgements and see whether it is still within the purview of what the commission can concede.
“If it is not within the purview of the commission, then the commission will take it up but based on the commission procedure and rules, we obey court orders. This is because based on the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, we are a public institution and bound to respect court orders. But we have to receive the judgement, study it, and then make a decision whether the commission will appeal such court order or not but as at today we have not received any court judgement.