INEC closes doors on Akpabio’s 2023 senatorial ambition
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Barrister, Mike Igini has said that the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission on the Akwa Ibom North-West (Ikot Ekpene) senatorial ticket is “final and cannot be reopened again,” adding that Senator Godswill Akpabio has nothing to do about it.
Akpabio, the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, emerged the winner of a re-run primary conducted at the Skill Acquisition Centre, Ikot Ekpene, having polled 478 votes out of 512 accredited delegates for the election.
But speaking on Tuesday at the Comfort FM news and Current Affairs programme monitored by our correspondent in Uyo, Igini said the re-run primary that led to the emergence of Senator Godswill Akpabio as the All Progressives Congress candidate for the district is strange and unknown to law.
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According to him, the May 27, 2022 primary, which produced a former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Udum Ekpoudum (retd.), subsists because it was not cancelled, nor was it rendered inconclusive. He added that Senator Akpabio’s emergence is nothing but a “Nollywood fantasy.”
Igini added that what he knew about Akpabio was that he was the presidential aspirant for the All Progressives Congress who stepped down for Bola Tinubu, adding that, even if there was a re-run, it could only be conducted for aspirants that participated in the first primary.
He advised politicians contesting the 2023 general election to meticulously study the new provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act as amended, so as not to continue with the hope that things were still the way they were with the repealed 2010 and 2012 Electoral Act.
“By virtue of Section 31 of the 2022 Electoral Act, the only way somebody can be replaced in any form is that we no longer have substitution by political party. What you have now is withdrawal by individual or nominee and or death.
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“The law is not saying you should go and kill people so that you can have yourself on the ballot. No. The law is saying that those who have emerged at all levels up to the presidential level, you can decide that you are no longer interested. You can write an application signed by yourself, delivered to your party who will now deliver it to INEC, but nobody can shave the political head of another person in his or her absence.
“The report of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District APC primary as submitted to INEC headquarters in Abuja is final. It is concluded. The train has left the station. The timeline is clear. All those who are in politics should go and study the 2022 Electoral Act very well.
“I hear people talk about substitution. If you look at Section 31 and Section 34 of the Electoral Act, those of you who are still carrying the old idea of the 2010, 2012 Electoral Act in your head, thinking you can substitute willfully, it is no longer so.
“Then number two is only in the case of death. Even at that, there will now be a fresh primary. This is the new law. So, what we are seeing going on is clearly a misnomer. The rerun can only be conducted between and among those who participated in the first Senatorial election of May 27, 2022 and the Senatorial primary for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District was not cancelled, was not nullified, and was not inconclusive. It was conclusive, it was concluded and the report was written and it is final because you cannot reopen that anymore,” he declared.