Supreme Court Rejects Review of Decision on Zamfara APC

The Supreme Court, Monday, declined to review its decision on disqualification of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara from participating in the governorship, national and state House of Assembly elections in the state.

In a ruling, the apex court refused to review its judgment which nullified the 2018 APC primary elections in the state.

In an application filed by the APC by its counsel, Robert Clarke (SAN), the APC asked the court to reverse and set aside the consequential order in its judgment delivered on May 24, 2019.

The appellant also wanted the court to order fresh election by INEC as against its consequential order which directed other party than APC with the highest vote to various offices that were contested for in Zamfara be sworn in .

Senator Kabiru Marafa had dragged the APC in the state before a high court in the state, praying it to nullify the primaries of the party carried out by a faction loyal to the ex governor, Abdulazizi Yari.

The trial court had dismissed Marafa’s suit, which prompted an appeal to Appeal Court of Sokoto Division.

The five-panel of Justices, led by Justice Bode Rohdes-Viviour, on Monday, held that the consequential order arose from the substantive suit which is within the prescribed the 60 days for pre-election matters, therefore the appeal to set it aside was incompetent and the court lacks jurisdiction to review it.

The Supreme Court had earlier invalidated the participation of the APC in the last governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in Zamfara on the ground that the APC and all its candidates that participated in the elections for failure to conduct lawful primaries.

The apex court had in a unanimous judgment on May 24, 2019, by a five-man panel of Justices led by the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, held that the APC did not conduct valid primary elections to nominate candidates for any elective position in the state and as such did not have any valid candidate in all the elections that held in Zamfara State.

The Justices 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 elections in Zamfara State. The verdict was prepared and delivered by Justice Paul Galinje, who also 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 are deemed as wasted votes. Candidates of parties with the highest number of valid votes cast with the required spread stand elected in Zamfara”, the Supreme Court held.

The implication of the verdict was that all candidates of the APC that won elections in Zamfara State, including its governor-elect, Alhaji Mukhtar Idris, national assembly members elect and state Houseof Assembly members were in the face of the law deemed not duly elected.

In complying with the verdict of the court, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), announced the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the governorship election, all the National Assembly seats and all but one state Assembly seats.

After explaining the rationale behind the commission’s decision, INEC boss, Mahmood Yakubu, said: “I wish to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of all stakeholders, but particularly the political parties, to the implications of the Supreme Court judgment on the Zamfara matter.

“It is clear that properly conducted party primaries are cardinal to the proper internal functioning of political parties, the electoral process and our democratic system at large.”

Author: News Editor

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