*Asks party to send replacement to INEC
By Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has written formally to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), intimating it of his plan not to participate in the planned Akwa Ibom North West rerun.
The former Senate Minority Leader in the Eighth Senate in a letter dated December 2, and addressed to the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, attributed his withdrawal from the Senatorial rerun to the huge responsibility his position as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs has placed on him.
He said “I have taken into consideration the critical national assignment bestowed on me by Mr. President which will be of immense importance to Nigerians and in particular the indigenes of the Niger Delta region and have resolved to remain as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to further discharge my contributions and services to our great fatherland”.
Emphasising that he can’t abandon a critical assignment placed on him by President Muhammadu Buhari in pursuit of a rerun, Akpabio urged the party to write the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in line with Sections 33 and 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010, and submit a replacement to run in his place.
The Minister in the letter, urged the APC Chairman to prevail on the Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to redeploy the State Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini if free and fair elections must be held in the Senatorial district.
The letter read inter alia:
“I wish to recall that I was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District Election held on the 23rd day of February, 2019.
“Upon the dedaration of Christopher Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the purported winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I challenged same at the National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
“The Tribunal In a split decision by a majority of two to one (Honourable Justice W. O. Akanbi and Honourable Justice 0. D. Etubu) dismissed our Petition, while in a dissenting judgment delivered by Honourabie Justice Hahz S. Tahlr, the petition was adjudged proven and all the reliefs sought were granted.
“Being dissatisfied with the decision of the majority judgment and upon the erudite points of law and conclusion contained in the minority judgment, we appealed to the Court of Appeal, Calabar Judicial Division which in a unanimous decision delivered on the 9th day of November, 2019, allowed our appeal and set aside the Judgment of the Lower Tribunal.”
“I have taken into consideration the critical national assignment bestowed on me by Mr. President which will be of immense importance to Nigerians and in particular the indigenes of the Niger Delta region and have resolved to remain as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to further discharge my contributions and services to our great fatherland.
“It is on the premise of the foregoing and particularly in line with the provisions of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) that I want to formally and voluntarily withdraw my candidature as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the forthcoming Court ordered Re-run Election for the Akwa lbom North-West Senatorial Dastnct.
“It will be inappropriate in the circumstance and pursuant to Sections 33 and 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) for the party to immediately communicate this withdrawal to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and forward to her the name of another candidate of the party to replace me at the Court ordered Rerun Election for the Akwa lbom North-West Senatorial District.
“I want to seize this opportunity to thank our formidable party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), its leadership at the state and national levels for availing me the party platform and the immeasurable support I received throughout the period of the election and beyond.
“Mr. chairman, may I advice that the National Working Committee of our party should reiterate our earlier plea to the chairman of Independent Nanonal Electoral Commission (lNEC) to redeploy Mr. Mike Igini (the Resident Electoral Commissoner) from Akwa lbom State if a free and transparent re-run exercise is to be guaranteed”.
The Court of Appeal, had in November ruled that a rerun should be held in some parts of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District after Akpabio had challenged the declaration of Senator Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the February 23 senatorial polls.