The Supreme Court on Thursday in Abuja fixed February 22 for final judgment in a legal battle by a staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Mrs Aida Nath Ogwuche, for a House of Representatives ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a Benue Federal Constituency.
The apex court fixed the verdict date after taking arguments for and against the long-drawn legal action kick-started at a Federal High Court in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State.
Represented by a legal luminary, Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, the FIRS staff pleaded with the Supreme Court to return her as PDP’s candidate for Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue State.
Awomolo urged the court to give proper interpretation to Section 66 (I) (f) of the 1999 Constitution as it relates to elections being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Her opponent in the legal battle, Hon Francis Ottah Agbo, in his submission, asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal for want of merit.
Represented by a former Attorney General of the Federation AGF, Kanu Agabi SAN, Agbo insisted that Mrs Ogwuche violated the law by refusing to resign from FIRS at the time she stood for the primary election.
Justice John Okoro, who presided over the proceedings after taking arguments, announced that the final judgment would be delivered on February 22.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja had on January 13 this year voided the nomination of Aida Nath Ogwuche as the House of Representatives candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In her place, the Court declared Hon Francis Ottah Agbo as the validly nominated candidate of the party in the Constituency.
The appellate court held that Mrs Ogwuche, who was declared winner of the PDP primaries by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was still a staff member of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) at the time of the election.
Agbo, who is the current member representing the Federal Constituency and Chairman of the House Committee on Narcotics and Drugs, came second in the disputed primary election in May 2022.
Having found that Mrs Ogwuche did not resign from her appointment with FIRS, the Court of Appeal ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the certificate of return issued to her and re-issue same to Agbo as the validly nominated candidate of the party for the Federal seat.
The Court held that Mrs Ogwuche ought to have resigned her employment from the service before contesting in the primary election of the PDP.
The decision of the Federal High Court recognising the participation and election of Mrs Ogwuche in the primary election was declared illegal and unlawful..
The panel relied on Section 66 (I) (f) of the 1999 Constitution to declare Ogwuche’s election as unlawful and invalid.
The Federal High Court in Makurdi had, on November 11, 2022, declared Mrs Ogwuche as the duly elected candidate of the PDP for the Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency.
Supreme Court fixes Feb 22 for judgment in FIRS staff’s battle for Benue Reps ticket