21 September 2017

Nigeria: PDP Withdraws Appeal Challenging Sack of Akwa Ibom Senator

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has requested the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar to dismiss its appeal against a judgment of the Federal High Court, Uyo which sacked Mr. Albert Akpan from the National Assembly and declared Bassey Etim as replacement.

The party said the judgment of the Uyo Federal High Court which sacked Akpan from the Senate for not being its authentic candidate for the 2015 Akwa Ibom senatorial election was not against its interest, hence, unnecessary and ought not to have been filed in the first place.

In the notice of discontinuance of the appeal, the PDP said: "Take notice that the appellant (PDP) hereby withdraws all the processes including the Notice of Appeal and the brief of argument filed by the erstwhile counsel for the party."

The decision of the PDP under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi to withdraw the appeal, it was learnt, was in the spirit of on-going reconciliation in the party and its commitment to bring sanity into the party as it prepares itself for the 2019 general poll in the country.

A Federal High Court sitting in Uyo had on February 27, 2017, asked Akpan to vacate the senatorial seat holding that he was not the valid and bonafide candidate of the PDP which won the 2015 general election for the Akwa Ibom North East senatorial seat.

The court, in the judgment on a pre-election dispute between Etim and Akpan over who between them was the authentic candidate of the PDP for the senatorial seat, specifically held that Akpan had wrongly and illegally represented the Akwa Ibom North East senatorial district in the National Assembly for 628 days.

The life span of the current 8th National Assembly is 1,460 days, commencing from June 9, 2015 when it was inaugurated, to expire June 9, 2019.

The court consequently ordered Akpan to vacate forthwith the seat for Etim for the remaining 812 days, and refund to the coffer of the National Assembly, within 90 days, all monies he had collected by way of salary and allowances for the 628 days during which he illegally occupied the seat in the Senate.

Besides, the court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to retrieve the certificate of return earlier issued to Akpan and issue a fresh one to Etim, to enable him proceed to the Senate for his swearing-in.

INEC had since complied with the court order as it issued the certificate of return to Etim. But the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had flagrantly refused to obey the judgment of the court, Uyo which directed him to inaugurate Etim to begin to perform the functions of his office.

Saraki said he had sent the judgment to the legal department of the National Assembly for legal advice on what to do.

He said: "There's a process to this and when I get this I always get informed. There are always two sides to a story; I have a senator who says this is the case.

"I referred the case to the legal unit to give me a clear advice on this, and once they advise me, I will comply.

"I have explained that to the senator that I have no interest; I want the people of Akwa Ibom, which Senator Akpan represents, to have a representation. I don't gain anything in it.

"I will follow it and I will make it happen," he said.

But a one-time Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Samuel Omotunde Ilori, had dismissed as ridiculous, untenable and contemptuous the refusal by Saraki to swear in Etim as ordered by a competent court of jurisdiction.

The judge said the Senate President was not at liberty to seek advice on a positive order of the court.

Saraki had also spurned the legal advice from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) which counselled him to swear in Etim since there was no stay of execution to stop the implementation of the valid and subsisting high court judgment.


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