*disqualifies Akanimo Udofia
By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
A Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, on Monday, cancelled the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary election that produced Obong Akanimo Udofia as the flagbearer of the party in Akwa Ibom State for next year’s general elections.
Presiding judge, Justice Agatha Okeke, in her ruling, ordered that a fresh primary polls be conducted within 14 days of the judgment.
“Within fourteen days only, the party (APC) should conduct fresh primary” the court said.
Recall that Senator Ita Enang, one of the aspirants in the APC governorship primary held on May 26, 2022, had sued Obong Akanimo Udofia, the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the first, second and third defendants respectively, challenging the legitimacy of the conduct of the primary.
Recall also that Mr Akanimo Udofia”s name and Mr Victor Antai as the ‘APC Governorship Candidate and Deputy respectively were not captured in the Governorship List released by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for 2023 general elections.
In determining the substantive suit, Justice Okeke noted that the APC Governorship Election Committee had violated the laid down provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.
The Judge also noted that there was no evidence before the court that the procedures adopted by the second defendant (APC) in conducting the said primary was in line with Electoral Act 2022 as amended
Justice Okeke also held from the evidences before the honourable Court that the aspirants in the primary were not given equal opportunity to campaign.
She resolved that the weight of evidence before the Court showed that no election was held and that the nomination of Obong Akanimo Udofia “was null and void and therefore set aside.”
“No APC governorship primary election was held in Akwa Ibom. Therefore, the nomination of the first defendant (Akanimo Udofia) as the governorship candidate of the Party did not comply with the Electoral Act of 2022,” the judge held.
The Judge described the Akwa Ibom governorship primary election held on May 26, 2022, as a “sham,” adding that “the second defendant (APC) was restrained from presenting its candidate (Udofia) to the third defendant (INEC) for the 2023 general election.
Justice Okeke ordered that “the second defendant shall, within 14 days of the judgement, conduct a fresh election, and also ordered that the first defendant (Akanimo Udofia) be disqualified from participating in the fresh primary”.
When asked by journalists at the premises of the Court for his comments, the Plaintiff’s Counsel, Nsikak Akpan Esq, expressed satisfaction over the judgement.
He said that the judgement has further proven to the integrity of the Judiciary to give fair justice, and remain the last hope for the masses.
Our correspondent has observed that the fresh primary election of ‘APC as ordered by the court will be between two aspirants, Senator Ita Enang and Mr Augustine Utuk.