The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has reiterated his earlier withdrawal from the January 25, 2020 rerun election in Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, Igbere TV reports.
Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state, had written his party, the All Progressive Congress to replace him, citing “critical assignment” placed on him as minister.
The reiteration of the earlier withdrawal was contained in a statement sent to Igbere TV on Saturday, issued by Anietie Ekong, Chief Press Secretary to the Minister.
He said Akpabio, who is currently on inspection visit to some states in the Niger Delta to assess the projects executed by the Ministry under him, restated his position in Uyo that he would not be a candidate in the election because of “higher national responsibilities” as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
He, however, declared his full support for a former Member of the House of Representatives, Hon Ekperikpe Ekpo whom his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) had picked as his replacement, having emerged as the runner up in the primaries, and urged his supporters and the people of Essien Udim to massively vote for him.
The APC had through the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and the then Acting National Secretary, Hon Victor T. Giadom in compliance with the requirement for 45 days notice to be given for the substitution of candidates, written to the Chairman of INEC, to submit the name of Hon Ekpo as a replacement for Senator Akpabio in the election. This was acknowledged by INEC.
“Senator Akpabio however aligns himself with the position of his party, the APC as expressed by the State Chairman, Hon Ini Okopido in a recent press statement that “As we prepare for the re-run elections in Essien Udim LGA, we are cautious and mindful of a re-run election superintended by Mike Igini. We have no faith in Igini’s impartiality as an unbiased and independent umpire. Igini is a compromised official and avowed enemy of APC. We are distraught and doubtful of a change of posture and therefore cautious to go into a fresh election while Igini remains the State REC. Only a foolish survivor would ask the same hired assassin to extract the bullet from his body.”
“It has been brought to the attention of Senator Akpabio of a sinister plot by some paid political jobbers and miscreants who appear jittery about the upcoming elections in Essien Udim LGA to write spurious petitions to security agencies and make all manners of wild allegations against Senator Akpabio.
“Having withdrawn from the contest to face higher national responsibilities, we caution political jobbers to desist forthwith from their planned smear campaigns against Senator Akpabio and unnecessarily heating up the polity”, the statement added.
The CPS warned that, “The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio will have no choice than to invoke the full weight of the law against anyone who engages in any plot to smear his name through sponsored, fabricated petitions. A word is enough for the wise.”
The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, Cross River State had voided the declaration of Peoples Democratic Party’s Chris Ekpenyong by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.
The Court also ordered fresh election to be conducted in Essien Udim Local Government Area which INEC subsequently scheduled the election for January 25, 2020, reports Igbere TV.