By Ebere Agozie
The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed Akan Udofia as the duly nominated All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State.
A former senator, Ita Enang, had sought to nullify Udofia’s nomination as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.
Delivering the judgement, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, held that Udofia was a bona fide member of the APC when it held the primary election.
Kekere-Ekun held that a political party has the “prerogative” to grant anyone membership waivers.
“I am in full agreement with the lower court that Udofia was a member of the APC when he contested for the primary, and that the issue of a waiver is an internal affair of a party which the court cannot inquire into.
Enang had prayed the court to declare him as the authentic governorship flagbearer of the party on the ground that Udofia was not an APC member as at 27 May 2022 when the party conducted the governorship primary.
The justice after affirming Mr Udofia’s candidacy further held that Enang’s case collapsed.
“Having held that the 1st respondent duly participated in the primary election, the foundation of the appellant case collapsed.
The appeal in my view was rightly dismissed by the lower court,” Kekere-Ekun said.
A Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State capital, had on November 14, 2022 set aside Udofia’s nomination as the APC governorship candidate for the state.
The judge, Agatha Okeke, had ordered the APC to conduct a fresh primary within 14 days but barred Udofia from participating in the new election.
Dissatisfied with Okeke’s decision, Udofia filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja. The appellate court on January 19 set aside the judgment of the lower court and restored his candidacy.
In its verdict, the appellate court faulted Okeke’s judgement on the basis that the court erred in entertaining the matter in contravention of Sections 97 and 98 of the Sheriffs Act. (NAN)