Kogi APC governorship aspirants ask court to nullify primary election

Kogi APC governorship aspirants ask court to nullify primary election

Aggrieved aspirants in the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary election in Kogi State have asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to cancel the outcome of the exercise.

The APC held its primary election to field a candidate for the state governorship election scheduled for 11 November.

On 15 April, Ahmed Usman-Ododo, emerged as the governorship flagbearer of the APC in Kogi. Mr Usman-Obodo, the Auditor-General for Local Government Areas in the state, was backed by the state governor, Yahaya Bello.

However, some aspirants in the race kicked against the conduct of the exercise.

Two of the aspirants, Smart Adeyemi and Shuaibu Abubakar, a son of former Kogi State governor, Abubakar Audu, have filed two suits at the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the primary election.

Mr Adejemi who represents Kogi West Senatorial District at the National Assembly, described Mr Usman-Ododo’s emergence as a “sham.”

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Two other members of the party – Realwan Akpanachi and Yahaya Seidu-Nuhu – similarly filed a joint suit seeking the disqualification of Mr Usman-Ododo, and other public office holders, who participated in the 11 April primary election without resigning from their positions.

In their separate suits marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/556/2023 and FHC/ABJ/ CS/557/2023, Messrs Adeyemi and Abubakar prayed the court to declare as “illegal, unlawful and invalid” the purported “direct primary election” which produced Mr Usman-Ododo as the governorship candidate of the APC for the November election.

They argued that the alleged unlawful selection of Mr Usman-Ododo contravened Section 177 of the Nigerian constitution and Section 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act as well as Article 20 APC’s constitution.

Aside Messrs Adeyemi and Abubakar, Stephen Ocheni (a professor), Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Martala Ajaka and Sanusi Ohiare, are protesting the outcome of the election.

The judge, James Omotoso, had ordered the APC to conduct a fresh primary election in line with the provisions of the law and guidelines and constitution of the APC.

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But, the plaintiffs in the fresh suits filed by their lawyer, Adekunle Otitoju, are asking the court to invoke Section 177 of the constitution, Sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act and Article 20 of the APC’s constitution, to declare the election illegal.

They also prayed the court for an order compelling Nigeria’s electoral commission, INEC, not to recognise Mr Usman-Ododo as APC’s governorship candidate on account of irregularities during the primary poll.

In addition, the aggrieved aspirants urged the court to compel the APC to conduct a fresh primary election; providing a leve playing field for all aspirants as statutorily required.

In a 35-paragraph affidavit in support of his own originating summons, Mr Adeyemi claimed to have obtained his nomination and expression of interest form at N50 million.

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Subsequently, the senator said he was screened and cleared to participate in the primary election slated for 14 April, 2023.

Mr Adeyemi narrated that while waiting at his constituency to participate in the primary election, he was shocked to learn that the exercise had taken place, with Mr Usman-Ododo declared as winner.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the major opposition party in the state, is seeking to reclaim the governorship seat it lost to the APC in the state about seven years ago.

The party has picked Dino Melaye, a former senator from Mr Adeyemi’s zone, as its candidate for the forthcoming 11 November governorship election.

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