NIGER Delta minister Senator Godswill Akpabio has lost the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District election re-run after the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) declared Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the winner.
In last February’s general elections, Senator Akpabio, the former Akwa Ibom State governor who had defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), lost his seat to Senator Ekpenyong. However, Senator Akpabio, who has since been appointed a minister, took the case to the elections tribunal, where he got a favourable judgement.
Ruling on the case, the elections tribunal ordered fresh polls in Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, saying the original polls there were flawed. This judgement was upheld by the Nigerian Court of Appeal, which ruled that Senator Ekpenyong did not win in Essien Udim and therefore ordered a rerun in 90 days.
Over the weekend, the re-run held in Essien Udim Local Government Area in what was a volatile election characterised by violence and ballot-stealing. According to Inec, some election officials were even held hostage in the area.
Despite the setbacks, however, Inec went ahead to declare the results, crediting Senator Ekpenyong, with 134,717 to Senator Akpabio’s 83,820 votes. As a result, Inec declared Senator Ekpenyong the winner of the poll and he will return to the senate after receiving his certificate of return.
In the run-up to the election, Senator Akpabio said he was no longer interested in a repeat poll but Inec rejected a replacement of candidate. Apart from the senate seat, elections were also held in the Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara Federal Constituency for the House of Representatives, where the PDP candidate Nsikak Ekong, scored 45,366 votes, while his closest rival Emmanuel Akpan of the APC scored 22,757 votes.
For the Essien Udim State Constituency, the PDP candidate, Esse Umoh, scored 18,999 votes, while the APC candidate, Nse Ntuen scored 7,108 votes. All the APC candidates for the elections into the state and federal constituencies had announced their withdrawal from the poll hours before its commencement.
Giving reasons for his withdrawal, Mr Ntuen claimed he won 2019 election and that the Court of Appeal did not order for a rerun election. He added that he has filed a suit in court to compel Inec to release his certificate of return.
For his part, Mr Akpan, the APC candidate for the Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara Federal Constituency election, said he withdrew from the re-run because he did not trust the resident electoral commissioner in the state, Mike Igini, to organise a free and fair election. Senator Akpabio had also called for his resignation as a condition for him standing in the elections.