Governor Godswill Akpabio
By Tobi Soniyi
The Supreme Court Friday upheld the election of Godswill Akpabio as the winner of the April 2011 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.
A full court constituted by seven justices held that the 180 days stipulated by the constitution for the determination of the appeal had lapsed.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)'s candidate in the state's gubernatorial election, Chief James Akpanudoedehe, had approached the apex court asking it to depart from its earlier position on the calculation of 180 days as provided for in Section 285(6) of the Constitution which he claimed dealt a devastating blow to the constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair hearing.
However, in the decision of the court read by Justice Mary Peter Odili, the court declined the invitation and upheld its earlier decisions in similar appeals where the court held that the computation of time for an appeal commenced from the time of filing of an election appeal and refused to enlarge the time for the appeal to be entertained.
The court maintained that Akpanudoedehe's postulation as canvassed by his lawyer, Mr. Kola Awodein, (SAN) was a beautiful academic rendition, which was an abuse of the court's process.
The court upheld the objections of former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), who represented Akpabio, and that of Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) who stood in for the Independent National Election Commission (INEC).
Both senior lawyers had contended that there was no longer a live issue in the petition filed by Akpanudoedehe as the petition had expired the moment the 180 days elapsed.
The appeal was subsequently dismissed unanimously by the 7-man panel of the court.
However, no order was made as to cost.