By Wandoo Sombo
The Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to list Mr. Akanimo Udofia as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the governorship election in Akwa Ibom.
Justice James Omotosho gave the order on Thursday in Abuja following an application by Udofia asking that a consequential order be made to allow the electoral umpire to list his name as APC’s governorship candidate in the state.
Justice Omotosho in his judgment, held that the case of the plaintiff was justiciable and subsequently granted the prayers and ordered INEC to list him as the candidate of the APC in the Akwa Ibom governorship election.
Udofia and Sen. Ita Enang, a former presidential aide were in court asking the court to decide the authentic candidate of the APC in the Akwa Ibom governorship race.
Arguing the motion for an order of mandamus, Udofia’s counsel Mr. Emeka Etiaba, SAN, said that the apex court’s decision which upheld the process through which Udofia emerged as a candidate was not enough.
Etiaba said that was why his client had to approach the trial court to direct INEC to list him as a candidate in the Akwa Ibom governorship election having been declared as lawfully nominated by his party.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed Enang’s appeal against the judgment of the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, which nullified the judgment of a Federal High Court that sacked Udofia as the candidate of the APC.
However, since a consequential order was not made, Udofia approached the trial court for an order of mandamus compelling INEC to list him as the authentic candidate of the APC for the rescheduled March 18 governorship election in Akwa Ibom.
The Supreme Court had in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun in the suit marked SC/CV/158/2023, dismissed Enang’s appeal against the decision of the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.
The appellate court had on Jan. 19, set aside the judgment of a trial court that sacked Udofia.
The three-member panel in its judgment voided the decision of the Federal High Court, Uyo, on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit brought by Enang.
The panel said the court lacked jurisdiction on the grounds that issues relating to the internal affairs of political parties were outside the jurisdiction of the courts.
Dissatisfied with the reasoning of the appeal court, Enang approached the apex court to upturn the judgment of the appellate court and reinstate the judgment of the Federal High Court.
The apex court, however, dismissed Enang’s appeal on the grounds that the lower court was right in holding that issues relating to the internal affairs of political parties were outside the jurisdiction of courts.
The APC had declared Udofia as the winner of its governorship primary having won a majority of votes cast at the polls.
Enang, however, approached the Federal High Court challenging the nomination of Udofia.
He based his suit on grounds of alleged irregularities, claiming that Udofia was not qualified to contest the APC’s primary election having participated in the governorship primary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) where he lost.
In its judgment, the trial court agreed with Enang and voided the primary election that produced Udofia and ordered a fresh election to be done within 14 days excluding Udofia’s participation.