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Supreme Court upholds Akpabio's election

By The Citizen
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The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed an appeal filed by Engr. Frank Okon, challenging the emergence of Godswill Akpabio as the validly elected governor of Akwa Ibom State.

Engr. Okon, in his appeal, had prayed the apex court to nullify the election of Governor Akpabio on the grounds that the January 15, 2011 gubernatorial primary of the Peoples Democratic Party by which he emerged (Akpabio) was fraudulent and not held in compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended.

In a lead judgment on the two appeals; the main one filed by Okon and a cross appeal instituted by Akpabio, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal that said Okon had the locus standi to challenge the mandate of Akpabio.

The 7-man panel of the apex court led by Justice John Fabiyi held that the appellant was not straightforward in his pleadings.

'The court found out that the pleadings of the appellant in the main appeal contained irreconcilable facts and disjointed. In one breath, the appellant said he participated in the governorship primary election; in another breath, he said he only took part in the cancelled primary, the panel stated.

Justice Rhodes-Vivour said under Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, the appellant had lost the right to challenge the election of Akpabio. 'Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act is only applicable to people who participated in an election.

How can the appellant complain about discrepancies and non compliance in a governorship re-run primary he did not take part in?', the court asked.

The court in a unanimous decision, held that, 'Based on the provision of Section 87(9), you must have physically participated in a primary election before you complain about its outcome.

Okon in his affidavit has said he did not participate and the court so hold'. In view of this, 'the main appeal filed by the appellant is hereby dismissed; cross appeal allowed.

Decision of the appellate court is accordingly reversed as the appellant has no locus standi to file the appeal, having not participated in the rerun primary election. '