The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday declined to declare the All Progressives Congress, APC-conducted governorship primary poll invalid ahead of the Kogi state governor election scheduled for November 11.
In a decision written by Justice James Omotosho, the court similarly declined to nullify Ahmed Usman Ododo’s selection as the APC’s candidate for governor.
It determined that a lawsuit brought before it by Senator Smart Adeyemi, a former federal legislator who represented the Kogi West Senatorial District, lacked merit.
A primary election annulment was requested by the plaintiff in his lawsuit, FHC/ABJ/CS/556/2023, who claimed that the party had “fraudulently” nominated Ododo.
Adeyemi, in a 35-paragraph affidavit he filed in support of his originating summons, told the court that he obtained nomination and expression of interest forms from the party at the cost of N50 million, following which he was screened and cleared to participate in the primary election that was slated for April 14, 2023.
He told the court that while he waited at his constituency to cast his vote along with his people, he was shocked when information came to him that the purported primary election had been conducted and a purported winner declared.
Adeyemi testified before the court that Ododo was hand-picked by the departing governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, to serve as the party’s flag bearer, in flagrant contravention of Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution, Sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, and Article 20 of the APC Constitution.
The former legislator claimed that Bello, who is from the same zone as him, had initially requested that all other candidates withdraw in favour of Ododo, his favoured candidate.
According to political agreements, the court should be hearing from Kogi West, which has never before produced a governor in the history of the state.
The plaintiff further claimed that the then governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, who was supposed to preside over and announce the winner of the primary election, left Kogi state in annoyance so as to dissociate himself from the outcome of what they described as shambolic primary election.
He alleged that in Matawalle’s absence, the Secretary of the APC primary election committee, Patrick Obaghiagbon, in a meeting that was chaired by Governor Bello, declared that Ododo as winner of the governorship ticket.
While contending that Hon. Obaghiagbon lacked the powers to act as a returning officer for the primary poll, Adeyemi, urged the court to nullify Ododo’s nomination and order the APC to conduct a fresh one.
However, Justice Omotosho held that the plaintiff failed to discharge the burden of proof that was placed on him by the law, stressing that the allegation that result of the primary election was falsified, was not proved.
“There is enough proof before this court to slow that indeed a direct primary election of the APC held in Kogi state on April 14,” the court held, adding that Senator Adeyemi had after he lost in the election, lodged a complaint before an Appeal Committee that was constituted by the APC.
The court held that evidence before it showed that Adeyemi failed to appear before the Committee to prove his allegations.
The court said it found no reason to invalidate the outcome of the primary election based on speculations that were not supported with evidence.
“In the final analysis, this court will not allow the wish of few persons to truncate the wish of majority.
“Consequently, this case is hereby dismissed as lacking in merit,” Justice Omotosho held.