An aggrieved governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Kogi, Mr Abubakar Achimugu, has asked the Federal High Court, Abuja, to disqualify the candidate of the party, Mr Ahmed Ododo, from contesting the governorship election.
Achimugu approached the court through a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/584/2023.
When the matter was called on Tuesday, the plaintiff’s counsel, Mr Josiah Daniel-Ebune, informed the court of an application seeking leave of the court to amend the originating summons.
The request, which was not opposed by lawyers representing the defendants, was granted by the presiding judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu.
The plaintiff named the APC, Ododo, the deputy governorship candidate, Mr Salami Deedat and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents respectively in the suit.
The first defendant, the APC was represented by Mr Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, while Ododo and Deedat were represented by Mr Muyuzudeen Abdullahi, SAN.
INEC was not represented, despite being served with the court processes.
Subsequently, Justice Egwuatu adjourned the matter until June 14 for a hearing and ordered the plaintiff to serve INEC with the hearing notice.
The plaintiff, in the suit, is claiming that Ododo breached Section 182 of the Constitution, Section 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022, and Article 7 of the APC’s Constitution in participating in the April 14 governorship primary of the party.
He predicated his suit on the grounds that Ododo is not qualified to fly the flag of the APC in the forthcoming Nov. 11 governorship poll.
The plaintiff claimed that Ododo is not qualified having failed to resign his employment with the Kogi public service before contesting the governorship primary, which he won.
Achimugu claimed that Ododo’s failure to resign his appointment with the Kogi government, 30 days to the primary election, made him ineligible to contest the Nov.11 governorship election in the state.
One of the issues brought before Justice Egwuatu for determination is whether Ododo is eligible to participate in the forthcoming governorship election slated for Nov. 11.
This, according to the plaintiff, is in view of the fact that both at the time of submitting the nomination and expression of interest forms and the conduct and declaration of primary election results, Ododo and Deedat remained civil/public servants and employees of Kogi government.
“This is contrary to the provisions of Section 182 (2), Section 84 (10) and (11) of the Electoral Act, 2022 guidelines for the nomination of candidates.
“If the answer is in the affirmative, the plaintiff wants the court to amongst others, declare that the Ododo and Deedat are not qualified or eligible to have participated in the primary election being persons both employed in public service of Kogi.
”They failed and neglected to resign, withdraw or retire from employment at least 30 days to April 14 when the primary election was conducted.”
The plaintiff also prayed the court to declare that Ododo and Deedat, at the time of the concluded primary election of April 14 and April 15 when results were announced, were not qualified or eligible to contest.
“That the 2nd defendant is not eligible or qualified to contest for the office of Kogi governor, in the Nov. 11, poll, being a person employed in the public service of Kogi and failed to resign 30 days to the primary election.”
Subsequently, the plaintiff asked the court to make an order nullifying and setting aside the screening and participation of Ododo and Deedat in the April 14, gubernatorial primary election of the party.
The plaintiff also prayed the court for an order compelling INEC to remove the name of the defendants from the list of candidates vying for the governorship and deputy governorship seat of Kogi and substituting same with his name.
“An order directing the APC to recognize and forward the name of the plaintiff to INEC as APC’s valid and authentic gubernatorial candidate for the governorship election in Kogi.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining Ododo from parading himself as gubernatorial candidate of the APC.
“An order restraining APC and INEC from dealing with Ododo as the governorship candidate of the APC and that in the event Ododo is declared winner of the Nov. 11 guber election before the case is fully determined, the certificate of return issued to him by INEC should be withdrawn.” (NAN)