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Supreme Court Affirms Udom, Ikpeazu As Governors of Akwa Ibom and Abia State

udomThe Supreme Court has upheld the election of Emmanuel Udom as governor of Akwa Ibom state. The apex court held that Udom’s appeal challenging the decision of the appeal court, which sacked him, was “meritorious.”

The court affirmed the declaration of Udom as the winner of the April 11 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It said it would advance reasons for its decision on February 15. The Akwa Ibom state governorship election petition tribunal had ordered a rerun election in 18 local government areas of the state.

But Umana Okon Umana, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), challenged the decision of the tribunal on that grounds that the April 11 governorship election in the state should have been cancelled, owing to wanton irregularities.

In December 2015, the appeal court gave judgment in Umana’s favour, cancelling the entire election; and it directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hold a fresh one in the state within 90 days. But Udom went to the apex court to challenge the decision of the lower court. He asked the supreme court to set aside the judgments of the lower courts for being “perverse.”

In the case of Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of the state and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the April 11 governorship election, challenged the judgment of the appeal court declaring Alex Otti, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as winner of the poll.

Ikpeazu, through his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), asked the court overturn the judgment because the appeal court erred by declaring Otti winner in an election in which he scored a fewer votes than he did. Olanipekun argued that the APGA candidate should not take victory in an election he claimed was marred by corrupt practices.

But Otti, through Akin Olujimi (SAN), prayed the court to strike out Ikpeazu’s appeal for lacking in merit. He argued that Otti won in 14 out of 17 local governments areas in Abia state before “some PDP people hijacked the election”. “I pray your lordships to dismiss the appeal; it has no merit,” he said. But the apex court upheld Ikpeazu’s election, stating that his appeal challenging the decision of the appeal court had merit and was allowed

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