Akwa Ibom APC Senate tussle How Akpabio outsmarted ex-DIG Ekpoudom. With the release of the candidates’ list by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the uncertainty around who is the genuine senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Akwa Ibom North West has subsided.
According to a court decision, the Commission named Senator Godswil Akpabio as the APC candidate.
According to DAILY POST, Udom Ekpoudom, a former deputy inspector general of police, had it easy up until Senator Akpabio, a former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, entered the scene.
In a primary election conducted on May 22, the former DIG won the APC’s senatorial district ticket. The 108 wards in the 10 Local Government Areas of the State participated in the activity.
The procedure was overseen by the election umpire, INEC, and was run by a factional chairman, Augustine Ekanem, who was eventually ousted as the party’s chairman by the Appeal Court and replaced by Stephen Ntukepo.
Additionally, Senator Akpabio was preoccupied with his national presidential campaign, which he later abandoned in favor of Bola Tinubu, the party’s presidential candidate, and returned to his home state of Akwa Ibom to fight for a Senate seat. Stephen Ntukepo’s faction also had Engr. Ekperikpe Ekpo as the senatorial flagbearer during the nomination process.
The primary was ultimately scrapped in favor of a rerun, which was held at the Skill Acquisition Centre in Ikot Ekpene. Akpabio won with 478 votes, defeating the other candidates who were not present, with the exception of Ekperikpo Ekpo, who had previously declared his intention to give his ticket to Akpabio, whom he referred to as his “father.”
Sir Sylvester Okonkwo, Chairman of the Committee for the Senatorial Primaries, Mrs. Bunmi Moleye, Returning Officer, and Chief Sunday Ewoleye, Chairman, APC Primaries Appeal Committee were introduced by the party chairman, Mr. Ntukepo, who had earlier explained that the National Working Committee of the party had ordered a rerun due to irregularities in the May 28 election.
The party then submitted Akpabio’s name to INEC as the Senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North West, which is when Ex-DIG Ekpoudom’s horror really started.
The poll that saw the candidacy of Akpabio was not recognized by the then-INEC chairman, Mike Igini; instead, the election where Ekpoudom emerged was one that was seen by INEC officials and the police at Sheer Grace.
Igini questioned the legitimacy of the second primary because the first primary, which INEC personnel saw, had no indication of any violations. He said that any primary not under INEC supervision was illegitimate.
Ita Enang, a former special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, made a contribution that was comparable to Igini’s and shared the same destiny.
Enang, one of the candidates for governor, came in second place in the midnight election held in the party secretariat.
Enang, using section 84(1) of the Electoral Act of 2022 as amended, claimed that nomination congresses must be under the supervision of the INEC in a petition to the national leadership of the party to invalidate the primaries held by the Ntukepo-led government.
He argued that the INEC did not observe the congresses that produced the candidates in the Ntukepo-led executive, and he said that, in line with section 84(5)(c) of the Electoral Act as amended, the candidate of the party should be the aspirant who emerged from the INEC-monitored primaries.
Ntukepo’s executive committee in the State, however, resisted and submitted the names of its candidates to the INEC. Throughout the entire ordeal, Ekpoudom hauled Akpabio into court to contest his declaration.
On September 15, 2022, the Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Emeka Nwite, rejected the complaint against the INEC and the APC due to its lack of substance. On September 23, 2022, Justice Donatus Okorowo gave a similar speech in response.
The courts determined that the APC’s primary that gave rise to Ekpoudom and on which he depended to realize his desire was invalid, hence Akpabio is still the party’s nominee.
As a result, the INEC named Akpabio as the party’s senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North West in a list that was released on September 20.
Ekpoudom, who was dissatisfied with how things were going, pledged to challenge the verdict in the meanwhile.
The ex-DIG vowed to use all legal means to reclaim the mandate that “was earlier given to him by his people during the primary,” according to a statement from the director general of the Ekpoudom campaign organization, Hon. Uwem Udoma, titled “Judgement on Akwa Ibom North West APC Senatorial ticket: Our Position.”
According to the law, we have directed our legal team to immediately challenge both Justice Emeka Nwite’s decision (FHC/ABJ/CS/1011/2022) of September 15, 2022, and Justice Donatus Okorowo’s decision (FHC/ABJ/CS/1000/2022) of September 23, 2022.
However, Jackson Udom, Chief Press Secretary to Senator Akpabio, had encouraged the ex-DIG to rest and had called his attempt a futile one.
Whatever the case, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, the senatorial candidate for the governing Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who is said to be a strong force in the area, will be a difficult opponent for whomever runs as the APC candidate for the election.