Bars Akpan from parading self as senator for Akwa Ibom North East
Admin l Monday, January 30, 2023
UYO, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria – The Federal High Court, Abuja Division, presided over by Justice Fadima Murtala Aminu has declared the seat of the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District otherwise known as Uyo Senatorial District, vacant.
The seat was occupied by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, who was elected into the Senate on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In an action instituted by PDP, the party complained to the court that Akpan was sponsored to the Senate by the PDP having been elected on the party’s platform on 23rd February 2019.
But that on July 15, 2022, Akpan resigned from the PDP and subsequently joined the Young UYOProgressives Party (YPP). PDP therefore sued Senator Akpan, the Senate President and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the matter.
It claimed a declaration that by virtue of section 65(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) the 1st Defendant, being a person whose election on 23rd February, 2019 to the Office of Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District (otherwise known as Uyo Senatorial District) was sponsored by the Plaintiff, is no longer qualified to retain his seat in the Senate having resigned his membership of the Plaintiff.
The PDP is seeking a declaration that by section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution the 1st Defendant is liable to vacate his seat in the Senate having resigned his membership of the Plaintiff and become a member of the YPP before the expiration of the period for which he was elected.
It is also seeking declaration that the seat has become vacant and an order that the 3rd Defendant shall conduct a bye-election to fill the vacant seat not later than 30 days after the order.
“An order that the 1st Defendant shall refund to the Senate of the National Assembly all monies, allowances or other financial and material benefits paid, given or yielded to him after July 15, 2022.
“An order of injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from claiming to be or parading himself as the Senator Representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District in the Senate”.
Counsel to PDP MrPaul Mgbeoma of Tayo Oyetibot LP argued that by virtue of section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution, Senator Akpan was liable to vacate his seat in the Senate because of his resignation from the Party and joining the YPP.
He further told the court that there was no division in the PDP to justify the retention of his seat after leaving the Party. Counsel to Senator Akpan, Mr Solomon Umoh SAN, on the other hand, argued that PDP had no locus standi to challenge Senator Akpan.
He further argued that the Senate should have been joined as a Party to the Suit in addition to the Senate President who was made second Defendant.
He submitted that the matter was an internal affair of the Senate which the court had no jurisdiction to entertain. But Mgbeoma disagreed, arguing instead that the issue was a constitutional question which the court had jurisdiction to entertain.
He submitted that PDP had no complaints against the Senate and therefore it was not necessary to join the Senate as a Party to the Suit. The court rejected the arguments of Akpan’s Counsel and upheld the arguments of Mgbeoma.
Justice Aminu therefore granted all the reliefs of PDP and ordered Senator Akpan to pay costs of N5 million to PDP.