Kogi Gov Poll: Appeal Court affirms Ododo as APC candidate - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Friday, August 18, 2023

Kogi Gov Poll: Appeal Court affirms Ododo as APC candidate

 The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, affirmed Ahmed Ododo as the bonafide candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the governorship election billed to hold in Kogi State on November 11.

The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices, upheld the verdict of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which validated the primary election that produced Ododo as the gubernatorial flag-bearer of the APC.

It dismissed two separate appeals that were lodged by two aggrieved governorship aspirants of the party, Senator Smart Adeyemi and Mr. Abubakar Achimugu.

The panel, led by Justice Muhammed Shuaibu, held that both appeals lacked merit.

It held that the Appellants failed to establish their allegations that Ododo emerged through an invalid primary election.

The court held that Adeyemi, who hitherto represented Kogi West in the Senate, raised criminal allegations that ought to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. 

Justice Shuaibu held that the burden of proof was on the Appellant who alleged that the primary election the APC conducted in Kogi state was fraught with irregularities. 

He held that the APC placed sufficient materials before the trial court to justify the outcome of the primary poll.

“The evidence placed before the trial court by the Respondents was not controverted by the Appellant in this circumstance, issue one is hereby resolved against the Appellant.

“Where commission of a crime is an issue, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. 

"Allegation of falsification of votes is a criminal act and it is required in law to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, which the Appellant could not prove.

"Consequently, issue two is resolved against the Appellant.

“On the whole, the appeal is un-meritorious and it is hereby dismissed.

"The judgement of the lower court is hereby affirmed. Parties are to bear their respective cost,” the appellate court held.

It will be recalled that Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court had on July 12, dismissed Adeyemi's case.

The former lawmaker had in his suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/556/2023, sought the cancellation of the primary election, insisting that Ododo was "fraudulently" nominated by the party. 

Adeyemi told the court that he obtained nomination and expression of interest forms from the party at the cost of N50million, 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 told the court that Ododo was handpicked as flag-bearer of the party by the outgoing Governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, in gross violation of Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution, Section 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act as well as Article 20 of the Constitution of the APC.

He alleged that governor Bello had initially asked all other aspirants to step down for his preferred candidate, Ododo, who is from the same zone with him.

The Plaintiff told the court that by political arrangement, it ought to be the turn of Kogi West, which had not produced a governor in the history of the state.

He prayed the court to declare as illegal, unlawful and invalid, the purported direct primary election said to have been conducted by the APC, through which Ododo emerged as a candidate for the governorship poll.

Likewise, the Plaintiff, urged the court to declare the purported primary election as invalid and to issue an order, compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not to recognize Ododo as the bonafide candidate of the party for the governorship election.

Besides, the aggrieved governorship aspirant, through his team of lawyers led by Dr  Adekunle Ottitoju, prayed the court to order the APC to conduct a fresh primary election and to give all aspirants equal opportunity as prescribed by the Electoral Act, 2022.

However, in his judgement, Justice Omotosho held that the Plaintiff did not by way of credible evidence, establish his allegation. 

The court held that contrary to the position of the plaintiff, there was evidence that the primary election was validly held and monitored by INEC officials. 

It held that allegations the plaintiff raised in the suit were criminal in nature and therefore ought to have been proved beyond every reasonable doubt as stipulated in section 135 of the Evidence Act.

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