Temporary relief has come for embattled Senator Bassey Akpan, who represents Akwa Ibom North East as Senate Minority Leader; Mr. Godswill Akpabio has insisted that he (the former) was indeed the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) standard-bearer in the last election for the senatorial district.
The immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom had expressed willingness to testify in court in favour of Akpan should there be need for it.
Last February, the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, in a pre-election dispute between Mr. Bassey Etim and Akpan, nullified the election of the Senator on the grounds that the party’s primary election that produced him, faulty.
Akpan, who had filed a suit for the court to stay execution of its February 27 judgment, which was in favour of Etim, had his application struck out by the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, last week Friday.
But speaking in Akpan’s favour, the Senate minority leader said: “What is happening is over the candidate of the party; prior to and during the election, who is Senator Bassey Akpan, for Uyo Senatorial district.
“Surprisingly, I read on the pages of newspaper that one of my citizens went to court to say that he was the candidate, and not Senator Akpan, the man in the Senate currently.”
“I do know that I campaigned in the state with Senator Akpan, and he remains the authentic candidate of the party to the best of my knowledge, before, during and after the election, and he won massively and was voted for by the people of Uyo senatorial district. So, what is happening in court is baffling to me.”
He added that the only thing that can move Nigeria forward politically, and ensure it is stable and developed democratically “is to embrace justice and equity.”
He said Akpan was duly sworn in, so what is happening is a tussle, but took solace in the fact that the Supreme Court had on various occasions ruled that whomever the party says is the candidate, is the candidate.
While expressing confidence that justice will prevail in the end, Akpabio promised that if the court calls on him and subpoenas him for instance, to give evidence, he would make himself available.
According to him, “I was the governor of the state, so I am in a position to tell the truth. I was leader of the state, and leader of the party at that time, so if I speak, it is almost like speaking from the altar.”
Meanwhile, Etim who is currently challenging the election of Akpan was ordered out of the National Assembly complex by security agents.
He was also told to stop his incessant visits to the legislators’ complex and await the judgment of the Supreme Court on the case pending between him and Akpan.
Etim, who stormed the premises of the National Assembly to be sworn in, was reportedly warned by the leadership of the Senate to stop his incessant visits to the office of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Akpabio admonished him to go and await the judgment of the Supreme Court on the matter.
The minority leader accused Etim of desperation and was said to have vowed that as long as he is in the Senate, and remained the minority leader, “Etim will not be allowed to take Akpan’s mandate.