Kogi election: Court dismisses Achimugu’s case against APC, Ododo

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed a case filed by Abubakar Achimugu against the All Progressives Congress (APC), its governorship candidate in Kogi State, Usman Ododo, Ozigi Deedat and INEC for lacking in merit.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu who delivered the judgement in the suit marked “FHC/CS/585/2023: Achimugu v. APC & 3 Ors”, said the cause of action, which arose on April 14, 2023, was not statute barred, but that the Plaintiff’s case was bereft of merit.

The court also affirmed Ododo as the lawful candidate of APC in Kogi having validly resigned his appointment from Kogi civil service before contesting the primary election.

Achimugu also of APC anchored his suit on the grounds that Ododo, as at the time he contested the primary election to fly the flag of APC in the Nov. 11 election in Kogi, were still public servants in the state civil service.

In the judgment, Justice Egwuatu held that contrary to the claim of Achimugu, evidence showed that Ododo resigned his appointment more than 30 days before participating in the APC primary.

The judge said that exhibits tendered by the defendants showed that while Ododo’s resignation letter was received by the Office of the Kogi governor on March 8, that of the 3rd defendant, Mr Salami Deedat, was received on March 9.

“I have examined the letters of resignation filed by the defendants, they were addressed to the Kogi governor and were duly received and signed.

“A resignation letter becomes effective once it is received and accepted by the relevant authority. It is not when the authority replies the letter that it becomes effective.”

The judge held that where a letter of resignation has been received and duly signed, it takes effect and the employee would not be held responsible if the employer continues with the payment of salary.

The court said it was convinced that the defendant resigned his appointments as Auditor-General for Local Governments and Deedat as Commissioner for Local Governments respectively before contesting the primary election.

“I am satisfied that they resigned their appointments from Kogi government on March 8 and 9 respectively more than 30 days before the April 14 primary election.

“I hold that this suit is bereft of any merit and accordingly dismissed,” the judge said.

Earlier, the court dismissed the preliminary objection of the defendants claiming that the suit was statute barred having not filed it within 14 days as required by law.

The judge agreed with the plaintiff that the cause of action actually occurred on April 14, when Ododo and Deedat contested the primary and not when they purchased the expression of interest and nomination form.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) had on April 15, declared Ododo winner of APC primary election to elect a candidate for the party’s for the Nov.11 governorship election in the state.

Miffed by this, Achimugu approached the court asking that the primary election be nullified and Ododo be disqualified from contesting the governorship election on grounds that he was still an employee of the Kogi government when he contested.

The plaintiff in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/584/2023, claimed 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 APC.

Achimugu argued that Ododo’s failure to resign his appointment with the Kogi government, 30 days to the primary, made him ineligible for the Nov. 11guber poll.

Listed in the suit as defendants were the APC, Ododo, Deedat and INEC as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants.

Amongst the issues brought before the court for determination was whether Ododo was eligible to participate in the governorship election slated for Nov. 11.

This was in view of the fact that both at the time of submitting their nomination and expression of interest forms, were still civil/ public servants and employees of Kogi government.

This they said was contrary to the provisions of Section 182 (2), Section 84 (10) and (11) of the Electoral Act, 2022 Guidelines for the nomination of candidates.

The plaintiff said that if the answer was in the affirmative, the court should amongst others declare that Ododo and Deedat were not qualified or eligible to have participated in the primary election.

This was on the grounds of being persons both employed in public service of Kogi, having failed and neglected to resign, withdraw or retire from employment at least 30 days to the April 14 when the primary election was conducted.

“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.

“In the event Ododo was declared winner of the Nov.11 gubernatorial election before the case was fully determined, the certificate of return issued to him by INEC should be withdrawn.”

Mr Josiah Daniel-Ebune, counsel to Achimugu, told newsmen after the court proceedings that he would brief his client on the judgment to know the next line of action.

APC was represented by Abdulwahab Muhammed SAN; Ododo was represented by M.Y. Abdullahi SAN, and INEC, by AA Adeniyi SAN.(NAN) www.nannews.ng

Source: News Agency of Nigeria