The Minister of Niger Delta affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has pulled out of the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial re-run election scheduled for January.
Naija News reports that the minister made his decision known in a letter addressed to the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole.
Giving a reason for his decision, Akpabio in the letter dated December 2, said as a minister, a huge responsibility had been placed on him.
The former Akwa Ibom governor said he could not “abandon a critical assignment” placed on him by President Muhammadu Buhari in pursuit of a re-run election.
Akpabio urged the party to write the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s electoral umpire, in line with Sections 33 and 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010, and submit a replacement to run in his place.
Naija News recalls that the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chris Ekpeyong, had defeated Akpabio in the February election but the former minority leader of the senate headed to the court to challenge his opponent’s victory.
Akpabio had taken oath office as a minister when the court of appeal ordered a rerun election in Essien Udim local government area where Akpabio hails from.
The minister’s letter reads as thus; “I wish to recall that I was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District Election held on the 23rd day of February, 2019,” the letter read.
“Upon the declaration of Christopher Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the purported winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, I challenged same at the National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The Tribunal in a split decision by a majority of two to one (Honourable Justice W. O. Akanbi and Honourable Justice 0. D. Etubu) dismissed our Petition, while in a dissenting judgment delivered by Honourable Justice Hahz S. Tahlr, the petition was adjudged proven and all the reliefs sought were granted.
“Being dissatisfied with the decision of the majority judgment and upon the erudite points of law and conclusion contained in the minority judgment, we appealed to the Court of Appeal, Calabar Judicial Division which in a unanimous decision delivered on the 9th day of November, 2019, allowed our appeal and set aside the Judgment of the Lower Tribunal.
“I have taken into consideration the critical national assignment bestowed on me by Mr. President which will be of immense importance to Nigerians and in particular the indigenes of the Niger Delta region and have resolved to remain as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to further discharge my contributions and services to our great fatherland.
“It is on the premise of the foregoing and particularly in line with the provisions of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) that I want to formally and voluntarily withdraw my candidature as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the forthcoming Court ordered Re-run Election for the Akwa lbom North-West Senatorial District.
“It will be inappropriate in the circumstance and pursuant to Sections 33 and 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) for the party to immediately communicate this withdrawal to the Independent National Electoral Commission and forward to her the name of another candidate of the party to replace me at the Court ordered Rerun Election for the Akwa lbom North-West Senatorial District.
“I want to seize this opportunity to thank our formidable party, the All Progressives Congress, its leadership at the state and national levels for availing me the party platform and the immeasurable support I received throughout the period of the election and beyond.
“Mr. Chairman, may I advise that the National Working Committee of our party should reiterate our earlier plea to the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission to redeploy Mr. Mike Igini (the Resident Electoral Commissioner) from Akwa Ibom State if a free and transparent re-run exercise is to be guaranteed,” Akpabio added.