Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, held that Mr Ahmed Usman Ododo can lawfully continue to fly the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming governorship election in Kogi State.
Justice Egwuatu made the decision while delivering judgment in a suit seeking Ododo’s disqualification over an alleged breach of the electoral laws.
Ododo had emerged winner of the APC primary election of April 14, held to choose the party’s candidate in the November 11 governorship poll in Kogi State.
However, displeased by his emergence, an aspirant of the APC, Mr Abubakar Achimugu, had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking that Ododo be disqualified from contesting the November 11 governorship election on the grounds that he did not resign his employment with the Kogi State public service 30 days before contesting the governorship primary.
Delivering judgment in the suit on Tuesday, the court held that contrary to Achimugu’s claims, evidence showed that Ododo resigned his appointment more than 30 days before participating in the APC primary.
Justice Egwuatu said exhibits tendered by the defendants showed that while Ododo’s resignation letter was received by the Office of the Kogi State Governor on March 8, that of the 3rd defendant, Mr Salami Deedat, was received on March 9.
The court while noting that an employee or appointee’s resignation letter comes into effect the moment the notice is received, held that the employee would not be held responsible if the employer neglected to act on it either by continuing with the payment of salary.
“Satisfied that they resigned their appointment on March 8 and 9, more than 30 days before the April 14 primary, the suit is bereft of any merit and accordingly dismissed.
Earlier, the court dismissed the preliminary objection of the defendants claiming that the suit was statute barred having been filed more than 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. “It is one thing to purchase form and it is another thing to participate in an election”, Egwuatu held.
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 State Government, 30 days to the primary, made him ineligible for the November 11, guber poll.
The APC, Ododo, the former Deputy governorship candidate, Salami Momodu Deedat and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.