Zamfara APC Has No Valid candidates in 2019 General Elections, Court Says

The Supreme Court on Friday held that the All Progressive Congress (APC) has no valid candidates in Zamfara state in the 2019 general
election and accordingly declared all the votes accredited to the party as wasted votes.

In a unanimous judgement, the apex court upheld the decision of the Sokoto division of the Court of Appeal to the effect that the APC did not conduct valid primary elections to nominate candidates for any elective position in the state.

A five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad held that the APC has no candidate cannot be declared a winner of the election.

Consequently, the court ordered that Candidates of parties with the
> highest number of valid votes cast with the required spread stands elected in the various political offices in Zamfara state.

The judgment principally centres on the governorship, state House of
Assembly and the National Assembly elections conducted in Zamfara State on February 23 and March 11, 2019.

APC candidates, including the outgoing governor of the Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, who was elected to the Senate, had won most of the offices contested for in the 2019 elections with the Peoples
Democratic Party’s candidates, placing first runners-up in the polls.

By this unanimous judgement, all candidates of the APC that won
elections in Zamfara State, including its governor-elect, Alhaji
Mukhtar Idris, have been sacked.

Justice Paul Galinje who read the lead judgment of the apex court
maintained that the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal was right when it held that the APC did not file any eligible candidate in the
2019 general election in Zamfara State.

The court consequently dismissed all the appeals bordering on the APC crisis in Zamfara State for lacking in merit.

Justice Galinje, in his judgmeny awarded a cost of N10m against the APC.

“I find that the lower court was right in holding that there were no
primary elections in Zamfara State.

“The appeal had no merit and it should be dismissed. It is
accordingly dismissed.

“The party that has no candidate cannot be declared a winner of the election. Therefore, all votes that are credited to such party is deemed as wasted voted.

“Candidates of parties with the highest number of valid votes cast with the required spread stands elected in Zamfara”, the Supreme Court held.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has admonished politicians to always play the game by the rules and not to engaged in acts capable of taking the country back to the stone age.

Justice Galinje who gave the admonition specifically charged politicians to always respect the constitution of their various
political parties rather than resorting to self help.

The dismissed appeals were a direct fallout of the judgment of the
Sokoto division of the Court of Appeal that set aside the judgment
delivered by the Zamfara High Court allowing the APC to field candidates in the 2019 elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had, in October last year, said it would not allow the APC to field candidates in
Zamfara because the party failed to conduct primaries before the
deadline stipulated.

However, a High Court sitting in Gusau, Zamfara state, ruled that the ruling APC actually conducted primaries in the state and should be
allowed to present candidates for the electoral contest.

The judgment followed a suit with suit number ZMS/GS/52/2018, filed by Sanusi Liman, Dan Alhaji and 37 others vs APC and 143, who had approached the court to compel the APC and INEC to accept the results of the party’s primaries election in the state conducted on
October 7, 2018, among others.

The party said it conducted primaries which produced current governor, Abdulaziz Yari as a senatorial candidate and his commissioner of finance, Shehu Idris, as the governorship candidate, among others.

The court, therefore, directed the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) to accept candidates from the party for Zamfara states in the forthcoming elections.

The judge, Muhammad Shinkafi, who delivered the ruling, said APC
conducted primaries elections on October 3 and 7, 2018.

The court also barred the national secretariat of the APC from replacing the names of those who won the primary elections of the
party.

Dissatisfied, with the judgment of the state high court, a factional
Chieftain of the party, Senator Kabiru Marafa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream); and 129 others had in their appeal filed through their counsel, Mike Ozheokome, SAN, urged the Sokoto division of the Court of Appeal to set it aside.

Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Tom Yakubu held that the lower court failed in its duty to properly evaluate the evidence before it.

Accordingly, the court set aside the judgment of the Zamfara state
High Court which recognised the primary election that produced
governorship, state and National Assembly candidates held by APC in the state and declared that INEC accept the party candidates for the
elections.

Not satisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the appellants led by Sanusi Liman-Danalhaji and 139 filed the appeal at the

Supreme Court wherein, they urged the apex court to set it aside.

While the first appeal was entered against Senator Kabiru Marafa and
other members of his faction, the second set of appeal was filed by
the APC against Sentaor Marafa and his factional members of the party.

Although, Senator Marafa who won at the Court of Appeal had equally filed a cross- appeal at the Supreme Court, same was withdrawn yesterday by his counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN).

In his response to the judgment, Ozekhome simply said, “its the work of God.”
He stated further: “What the apex Court has done today is to deepen,widen and strengthen democracy and our democratic precepts.

“It shows that parties must maintain internal democracy and cannot whimsically, capriciously and arbitrarily operate outside their Constitution,guidelines, the Electoral Act and the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court has redefined our jurisprudence, showing that when a party damages its primaries, it can never reap the proceeds of its illegalities. That is why and how the PDP that came second has today produced the governor, all senators, all House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates today in one fell swoop.

“All Glory and full adoration belong to God.”

Author: News Editor

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