The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected a former senator, Godswill Akpabio’s withdrawal from a scheduled rerun election for the Akwa Ibom North-West District.
The rerun election takes place this Saturday.
INEC in a letter addressed to Mr Akpabio’s party – All Progressives Congress (APC) – in December said it was too late for the former senator’s name to be replaced with another.
“Your letter dated 10 December, 2019 wherein you forwarded Nomination Forms of one Hon. Ekperikpe Luke Ekpo as substitute candidate of your Party for the court-ordered rerun refers.
“Please note that the last day for the withdrawal/substitution of candidates for the 2019 National Assembly elections and the said period has lapsed,” the election commission said in the letter signed by its secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony.
“Further, the said rerun election is to be conducted amongst the same political parties and candidates who participated in the nullified elections.
“Consequent upon the above, the commission cannot accede to your request and Sen. Godswill Akpabio remains the candidate of the APC for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District court-ordered rerun election.”
Mr Akpabio’s dream of returning to the Senate to represent the district for a second term was truncated February last year by Chris Ekpenyong, a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom, who was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the election.
The Court of Appeal, Calabar, in November, had ordered a rerun in only one local government area – Essien Udim – in the district, following Mr Akpabio’s appeal against the judgment of the election petition tribunal which declared Mr Ekpenyong was the validly elected senator for the district.
Mr Akpabio, who hails from Essien Udim, was appointed minister of Niger Delta Affairs by President Muhammadu Buhari after he lost the election.
The minister had said he would not want to abandon his “huge responsibility” and a “critical national assignment” at the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry as the reason he was backing out of the rerun election.