The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday upheld the election of the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, as Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District after dismissing the appeal by the All Progressives Congress’ candidate in the March 28, 2015 poll, Chief Inibehe Okori.
The Justice Abdul-Rahman Oredola-led three-man panel in its judgement, held that Okori’s appeal against the verdict of the Akwa Ibom National/State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja, which earlier affirmed Akpabio’s election on October 14, 2015, lacked merit.
The judgement was unanimous as the two other members of the panel agreed on the lead verdict read by Justice Oredola.
The Court of Appeal, which narrowed the issues raised by Okorie to his allegation that Akpabio was not validly nominated as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial election, held that the Senate Minority Leader was validly sponsored by his party.
The tribunal earlier upheld the preliminary objection filed by Akpabio’s legal team, a decision which saw it striking out grounds five, six and seven of Okorie’s appeal.
The tribunal had also struck out the issues two and three formulated by the appellant from the grounds of appeal, holding that the issues were not related to the judgement of the tribunal.
The two remaining issues which Okorie was left with were merged together by the Court of Appeal since both of them bordered on the alleged non-qualification of Akpabio to contest for the election.
Justice Oredola held that Akpabio met the requirements of section 65 (2) of the 1999 constitution, which clearly states that a person can only contest an election if he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party.
He further held that evidence showed that the PDP did not present any other candidate for Akwa Ibom North-West Sentorial District.
“From the totality of the evidence placed before the court, it is evidently clear that the error in one of the nomination papers, which listed the respondent (Akpabio) as candidate for Akwa Ibom North-East instead of Akwa Ibom North-West, has been clearly and satisfactorily explained to the court without any ambiguity.
“In the instant case, the appellant made a case in the error contained in one of the nomination papers and the respondents, especially the 2nd respondent and his party, the PDP, successfully proved to the court beyond reasonable doubt that an error that can be corrected in law was made and the error was successfully corrected with oral and other available documentary evidence to prove that the error was made in a good faith.
“The electorate that trooped out to vote on March 28, 2015 to choose the leader of their choice to serve them in the Senate must not be denied the benefits of their efforts simply because a mistake was made in one of the nomination papers.
“Having analysed all evidence, the court holds that this appeal lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed. No order made as to cost.”