Two contenders for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the April 14, 2023 primary poll in Kogi State, Senator Smart Adeyemi and Abubakar Achimugu, have filed two separate appeals at the Supreme Court challenging the emergence of Alhaji Usman Ododo as the candidate of the party for the November 11 governorship election in the state.
Adeyemi is challenging the primary election that ushered in Ododo, arguing that it was fraught with irregularities and evidence of substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act. He argued that the election only held in 11 wards, all in one local government, (Kogi/Kotonkarfe) of the 239 wards across the state.
He contended, “What happened to the 228 remaining wards? At what level were the results announced and was the entire process, starting from the cast of votes, announcement and collation of results done in accordance with the electoral act 2022 (as amended), which stipulated that results should be announced at each polling units at every ward and collated at the local government headquarters?”
The aspirant is also asking the Supreme Court justices to determine, among others, whether, in accordance with the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act (as amended), results of a supposed statewide primary election but declared solely based on election held in 11 wards of a local government (Kogi/Kotonkarfe) of 239 wards, is sufficient to nominate a governorship candidate by a party, exclusive of 228 electoral wards.
He is equally praying the Supreme Court to cancel the April 14 direct primary election of the APC in Kogi State and order a fresh election to be conducted either by direct, indirect or consensus mode, based on superior argument, for the nomination of a candidate lawfully elected by the majority of the members of the APC in Kogi State.
In his appeal, Achimugu is contesting the qualification of Ododo on the ground that he did not resign from the civil service at the time of purchasing and submission of his expression of interest and nomination forms.
He averred that claims that Ododo submitted his resignation letter to Governor Yahaya Bello was untenable and an afterthought, as the appropriate channel to do so is the Civil Service Commission, which copies ought to have been submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the party.
Recall that Adeyemi and Achimugu, had earlier filed separate suits at a Federal High Court in Abuja, against APC and Ododo challenging the authenticity of his nomination at the April primary election.
Adeyemi had argued that no primary election of the APC “worth that name” took place anywhere in the state and insisted that the results displayed by the electoral committee was mere allocation of votes.
He insisted that the primary election, which produced Ododo ran foul of Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution and also contrary to Section 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, as well as Article 20 of the APC constitution.
On the other hand, Achimugu was in court questioning the eligibility of the APC candidate on the ground that he did not resign from the civil service before contesting the primary.
That he held on to his post as Auditor General for Local Government overlapping the time limit stipulated in the Electoral Act. Ododo was alleged by Achimugu to have received salaries from the Kogi State government both as a civil servant and a governorship aspirant.
However, the Federal High Court in Abuja in separate judgments delivered by Justice James Omotosho on July 12, held that Adeyemi and Achimugu did not prove their allegations that Ododo was not lawfully nominated by the APC. Justice Omotosho quashed the petitions by Adeyemi and Achimugu, for lack of evidence, respectively.
Unsatisfied, the aggrieved aspirants took their cases to the Appeal Court. In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Muhammed Shuaibu on August 18, the Appeal Court upheld the verdicts of the lower court in a unanimous decision.