The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed Akan Udofia as the duly nominated All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State.
The governorship election holds on Saturday, 11 March.
A former senator, Ita Enang, had sought to nullify Mr Akan’s nomination as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.
Mr Enang had prayed the court to declare him as the authentic governorship flagbearer of the party on the ground that Mr Udofia was not an APC member as of 27 May 2022 when the party conducted the governorship primary.
But delivering judgement on Tuesday, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, held that Mr Udofia was a bona fide member of the APC when it held the primary election.
Ms Kekere-Ekun said a political party has the “prerogative” to grant anyone membership waivers.
“I am in full agreement with the lower court that the 1st respondent (Mr Udofia) was a member of the 2nd respondent (APC) when he contested for the primary, and that the issue of a waiver is an internal affair of a party which the court cannot inquire into,” Ms Kekere-Ekun said.
The justice after affirming Mr Udofia’s candidacy further held that Mr Enang’s case collapsed.
“Having held that the 1st respondent duly participated in the primary election, the foundation of the appellant case collapsed.
“The appeal, in my view, was rightly dismissed by the lower court,” Ms Kekere-Ekun said.
The Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital had, on 14 November 2022, set aside Mr Udofia’s nomination as the APC governorship candidate for the state.
READ ALSO: UPDATED: APC chieftain Akanimo Udofia reacts to ‘ownership issues’ around Ibom Air
The judge, Agatha Okeke, had ordered the APC to conduct a fresh primary within 14 days but barred Mr Udofia from participating in the new election.
Dissatisfied with Ms Okeke’s decision, Mr Udofia filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja. The appellate court on 19 January set aside the judgment of the lower court and restored his candidacy.
In its verdict, the appellate court faulted Ms Okeke’s judgement on the basis that the court erred in entertaining the matter in contravention of Sections 97 and 98 of the Sheriffs Act.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Mr Enang lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the Court of Appeal in its judgment on the matter refused to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise and publish Mr Udofia’s name as the APC governorship candidate for the governorship election in the state.
But the court the Supreme Court held in Tuesday that Mr Udofia duly participated in the primary election which he won.
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