Thomas Adeshina caused a stir when he shot the Solid Miners in front after benefiting from a defensive mix up.
However, Mfon Udoh scored from the penalty spot, his ninth goal of the season to draw the hosts level before Etboy Akpan scored what turned out to be the winning goal just before half-time.
With the win, Akwa United now have 31 points from 17 games.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah have moved up to the second spot in Group B with their 2-1 win over Delta Force.
Uche Ihuarulam's goal from the spot in the 8th minute and Chidi Madu’s effort late in the second half gave the Anambra Warriors victory.
In Kano, Pillars got a lone goal victory over Plateau United to stay in contention for one of the playoff spots in their NPFL group, Alassan Ibrahim got the only goal for the former champions.
In Okigwe, Yobe Stars’ reported plans of causing an upset against Heartland wasn't realised. The Naze Millionaires finished 2-0 winners.
MFM returned to winning ways with a slim win over Rivers United in Lagos.
The Olukoya Boys had gone five games without a win before getting it right against the Garden City team.
There were also home wins for Katsina United who edged Remo Stars 3-2 in a five-goal thriller while Sunshine Stars beat Wikki Tourist 2-1 in Akure.
Lobi Stars got the only away point in the Matchday 17 fixtures as they forced Kwara United to a barren draw in Ilorin.
#NPFL19 RESULTS— League Management NG (@LMCNPFL) May 5, 2019
Sunshine Stars 2-1 Wikki
MFM 1-0 Rivers Utd
Enyimba 3-1 Rangers
Kwara Utd 0-0 Lobi Stars
Katsina Utd 3-2 Remo Stars
Heartland 2-0 Yobe Stars
Akwa Utd 2-1 Nasarawa Utd
Kano Pillars 1-0 Plateau Utd
FC Ifeanyiubah 2-1 Delta Stars
Gombe Utd 1-0 Abia Warriors