The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed the reason Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, a former minister of Niger Delta affairs, Godswill Akpabio, and others made the final list of senatorial candidates eligible to contest the 2023 general election.
Naija News earlier reported that INEC released the list on Tuesday ahead of the campaign season consisting of the name, party, educational qualification, and age of each candidate.
In a statement by its spokesman, Festus Okoye, INEC explained that it released the list in accordance with the provision of the Electoral Act 2022.
In the list, the electoral agency recognised Governor Umahi as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Ebonyi South Senatorial District.
The commission also recognised the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio as the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial candidate under the APC.
Both candidates were earlier omitted from the list of candidates released earlier in June following the controversy that trailed their emergence in the Senatorial primary elections.
Clarifying the issues on Tuesday, INEC said the court compelled it to display the names of Akpabio, Umahi and some other candidates that were not recognised before.
INEC made the revelation in the remarks section published alongside the final list of national candidates eligible to contest the 2023 general election.
The commission said other senatorial candidates compelled by the court to publish their names include Ogbede Omoregie (PDP, Edo South); Ugbome Pascal (PDP, Edo North); Onolemenmen Ozeigbe (PDP Edo Central); and Rimantari Joshua (Labour Party, Taraba South).
A Federal High Court in Abuja had ordered INEC to accept and publish Akpabio’s name as the APC candidate for the Akwa Ibom North-West District in the 2023 elections.
The commission had earlier refused to recognise Akpabio as a candidate because it did not monitor the APC primary, which the former governor of Akwa Ibom claimed to have won.
Umahi had contested for the presidential primary of the party, which he lost to Bola Tinubu, while his younger brother, Austin Umahi, won the Ebonyi South senatorial primary of the party in May.
However, after the primaries, the younger Umahi stepped down for the governor, leading to a rerun primary, which the governor contested unopposed but the commission refused to list his name as the candidate and instead chose to leave the position vacant.
This led to the governor suing INEC at the federal high court, seeking to compel the electoral body to accept his name as a candidate of the party.
But, the runner-up to the first primary, Ann Agom-Eze joined the suit and urged the court to recognise her as the candidate of the party.
In his ruling, Justice Fatun Riman, in his ruling, however, ordered another primary, with Mrs Agom Eze and any other interested fresh candidates allowed to take part.
Agom-Eze, not satisfied with the ruling, appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Enugu and filed for a stay of execution.
Consequently, the APC in Ebonyi obtained an order from the Federal High Court to go ahead with the primary, which Umahi won even as the matter at the appeal court is still on.