The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, of withdrawing from Essien Udim LG Senatorial rerun election out of fear of defeat.
Naija News recalls that Akpabio had pulled out of the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial re-run election scheduled for January.
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.
But reacting in a statement by the state Publicity Secretary, Ini Ememobong, the PDP faulted Akpabio’s call to INEC to allow a replacement for the rerun elections.
The statement read in parts, “Senator Akpabio was a party before the court and the order of the court is that he should go back for a rerun in Essien Udim- that’s an order of the court and as a lawyer, he should obey that order and submit himself for confirmatory defeat.
“The purported withdrawal of the Senatorial candidate is a clear face-saving attempt by Chief Akpabio, in a bid to avoid a recurring defeat by Senator Chris Ekpenyong, whom he had earlier boasted was not a match for him. But like it’s common knowledge, pride goes before a fall. Senator Ekpenyong Defeated Chief Akpabio in 8 local government areas with a large margin of more than 38,000 votes-which is Akpabio’s present nightmare.
“On the funny claim that he has a patriotic task to perform at the Federal Executive Council as Minister, which is why he wants to withdraw from the race, the question is, when did he realize this duty which he claims he owes the Niger Delta? Why did he not withdraw before the Appeal court judgment? If the Court of Appeal had granted the reliefs he sought for, would he have still withdrawn?
“Our party seriously frowns at the clowning attempts by Senator Akpabio to derail the electoral process in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, as we have on good authority that he intends to use the judicial process to prevent the conduct of the rerun, by institutions court actions to compel INEC to accept his purported withdrawal- this suit he intends to drag up to the Supreme Court if he loses. Senator Akpabio, who once boasted that he couldn’t lose an election should have been excited as he was earlier, to show the world that he cannot lose an election in his local government area. Why is he afraid of going for an election in his native Essien Udim?”