By Harris Emmanuel & Chioma Onuegbu
The battle for Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial seat has shifted to the tribunal, as Senator Godswill Akpabio has filed a petition in Uyo, the state capital, challenging the emergence of Dr. Chris Ekpeyong of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as winner of the February 23 polls.
Akpabio’s Press Secretary, Aniete Ekong, told Vanguard: “Following the withdrawal of his case filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, which sought to challenge his Senate re-election loss, the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district in the February 23 election, Akpabio, and his party, have approached the election tribunal sitting in Uyo, to kick-start the legal processes that would lead to the validation of his victory at the polls.”
Akpabio is seeking to upturn the victory of Ekpeyong and PDP, based on perceived electoral irregularities which characterised the said election.
The former Senate Minority Leader had accused Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of infractions and deliberate violations of the electoral law and guidelines during the senatorial election.
According to him, “in the said election, INEC had in collaboration with some PDP chieftains in the senatorial district, wrongfully declared Ekpeyong and his party, PDP, winner of the poll, having scored 118,215 as against Akpabio’s 83,158.
“However, incontrovertible result sheets from Akwa Ibom INEC office showed different figures that had Akpabio securing 138,256 votes as against Ekpeyong’s 123,843.
“Dissatisfied with the conduct and outcome of the election, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State and his party vowed to approach the election petition tribunal to ventilate their grievances as well as reclaim their stolen mandate.”