APC suffers major loss as Appeal Court sacks Zamfara governorship, parliamentary candidates

Court of Appeal Headquarters
Court of Appeal Headquarters

The Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, on Monday, set aside the judgment delivered by the Zamfara High Court, allowing the All Progressives Congress (APC) to field candidates in the 2019 Election.

The appeal was filed by Kabiru Marafa, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) and 129 others through his counsel, Mike Ozhekome, SAN.

Respondents are Kabiru Liman-Danalhaji and 139 others represented by Mr Mahmud Magaji as lead Counsel.

Delivering the lead judgment, which was adopted by two other justices, Tijjani Abubakar and Jamilu Tukur, Justice Tom Yakubu held that the lower court failed in its duty to properly evaluate the evidence before it.

Mr Yakubu said judges have the legal power to produce judgment and reach decisions with reason, noting that in the instant case, it was not done.

“I am convinced that the lower Court has failed to evaluate the evidence before reaching the decision.

“The Appeal Court has power in law to access pieces of evidence on appeal, which we have done.

”Based on available facts the respondents did not contradict the INEC evidence on conducting the said primary election,” Mr Yakubu said.

The presiding judge said, “documented evidence has upper consideration than oral ones”.

Justice Yakubu held that the plaintiffs being card-carrying party members and aspirants in the said primary election have the legal capacity to institute the suit.

He added that federal, states and FCT High Courts have jurisdiction to entertain such matter.

The judges agreed that the judgment should serve as “bitter lesson” for political parties as they ought to follow legitimate guidelines and rules.

“Domestic affairs of political party activities must act within the confines of the law in dealing with party members and elections” the judges agreed.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a Zamfara High Court recognised the primary election that produced governorship, state and national assembly candidates held by APC in the state and declared that INEC should accept the party candidates for the elections.

Unsatisfied with State High Court decision, the appellants, approached the appeal court challenging the decision on the ground that the State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit among others.

NAN recalled that similar case was instituted before the same appeal court by Aminu Jaji, a governorship aspirant and member representing Kauran Namoda/Birnin Magaji Federal Constituency and was dismissed after Mr Jaji withdrew the suit.

Based on the initial court ruling, INEC allowed the APC to field governorship and parliamentary candidates. The APC went on to win the governorship and parliamentary elections in Zamfara.

However, unless Monday’s appeal court ruling is upturned by the Supreme Court, the APC may lose the positions.

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