The Supreme Court has declared Akan Udofia as the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the March 11 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.
The ruling followed an appeal filed by a former senator, Ita Enang against Akan’s nomination as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.
Enang had prayed the court to declare him as the authentic governorship flagbearer of the part. He claimed that Udofia was not an APC member as of 27 May 2022 when the party conducted the governorship primary.
The Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital had, on 14 November 2022, set aside Mr 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 Ms Okeke’s decision, Udofia filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja. The appellate court on 19 January set aside the judgment of the lower court and restored his candidacy.
In its verdict, the appellate court faulted Ms 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.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Enang lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court.
But delivering judgement on Tuesday, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, held that Udofia was a bona fide member of the APC when it held the primary election.
Kekere-Ekun said a political party has the “prerogative” to grant anyone membership waivers.
“I am in full agreement with the lower court that the 1st respondent (Mr Udofia) was a member of the 2nd respondent (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.
“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”, Justice Kekere-Ekun said.