The Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State has welcomed the judgement of the Court of Appeal on the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial election.
The court on Saturday nullified the election of Chris Ekpenyong and ordered a rerun in only one local government area – Essien Udim Local Government Area – between Mr Ekpenyong and Godswill Akpabio, a former Senate minority leader.
Mr Akpabio hails from Essien Udim.
“We welcome the judgement of the Court of Appeal which has proven that widespread irregularities occurred in Essien Udim Local Government Area and we are preparing for the election,” Ini Emembong, the PDP spokesperson in Akwa Ibom state, told PREMIUM TIMES, Saturday evening.
“And we are expecting Senator Akpabio’s resignation (as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs) so that he can come for the election,” Mr Ememobong added.
The PDP spokesperson later issued a statement, saying the rerun would afford the PDP a chance to widen its victory margin against Mr Akpabio and the APC.
“It is on record that the margin of victory currently outstanding is in tens of thousands of votes, which has not been affected by the judgement of the court.
“Our party urges the general public to ignore the false stories being peddled by members of the opposition APC about the judgement – which specifically ordered a rerun in Essien Udim local government area alone,” Mr Ememobong said.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Mr Ekpenyong, a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom, winner of the February 2019 election which truncated Mr Akpabio’s ambition to return to the Senate for a second term.
Mr Akpabio faulted INEC’s declaration and accused the election commission of “tampering” with the election result.
Mr Akpabio’s election petition against Mr Ekpenyong and INEC failed at the lower tribunal as it affirmed that Mr Ekpenyong won the election.
The appellate court ruled on Saturday that it was wrong for INEC to have declared Mr Ekpenyong winner of the election.
The court ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return from Mr Ekpenyong and conduct a rerun in Essien Udim within 90 days.
Mr Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom, resigned from his position as the Senate minority leader and defected from the PDP to the APC where he contested the election.
He was appointed the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs by President Muhammadu Buhari, after he failed to return to the Senate.
Mr Ekpenyong, who was the candidate of the PDP, is yet to speak on the Court of Appeal judgement.