Although his candidacy was nullified by the appeal court, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the last Zamfara State election, Mukhtar Idris, attended the recently concluded induction for new and returning governors-elect.
Based on the appeal court ruling, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also refused to issue a certificate of return to Mr Idris; meaning he is not recognised as a governor-elect.
Mr Idris and the APC have appealed the matter at the Supreme Court which is yet to rule on the matter.
Mr Idris was among the participants at the three-day event organised by the Nigerians Governors Forum, (NGF) at the Aso Presidential Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The event had in attendance Senate President Bukola Saraki and many state governors.
Also at the event were two former American governors, Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Martin O’Malley of Maryland State.
Controversies erupted when the outgoing Zamfara governor and the chairman of the governors’ forum, Abdulaziz Yari, ‘handpicked’ his former commissioner for finance, Mr Idris, to succeed him as the next governor.
Also, the mode of governorship primary elections selected by Mr Yari divided the party in the state.
Mr Yari wanted the APC to conduct an indirect election, where party officials would elect delegates to vote. But the party insisted on conducting a direct primary wherein all party members would vote.
Trouble deepened when the national headquarters of the APC issued a statement, three days to the deadline for primaries, dissolving the Zamfara State executive and banning Mr Yari from participating in the conduct of primaries because of his “interference”.
After weeks of political turmoil, INEC eventually banned the party from submitting the names of candidates because it said the party failed to meet the deadline given by the commission.
However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on February 21, cleared Mr Idris as a candidate for the elections a few days before the commencement of the 2019 general election.
INEC later declared Mr Idris the winner of the election in Zamfara after he polled 534,541 to defeat Bello Mutawalle of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 189,452.
However, after the election, aggrieved APC members continued their case in court and the Court of Appeal eventually ruled that the APC had no candidate for all the elections held in Zamfara; thus declaring Mr Idris’s election null and void.
When contacted, INEC restated its stance that Mr Idris would not be issued a certificate of return.
An INEC spokesperson, Festus Okoye, in response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry said the commission has not issued any certificate of return to Mr Idris.
He also said the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.
”The Commission issued Certificates of Return to those elected to the Senate and House of Representatives in Zamfara State,” he explained. “The Commission has not issued any to those elected to the House of Assembly and to the office of the Governor.”
”The matter relating to the primary election of the party is pending before the Supreme Court. The Commission will abide by the decision of the Supreme Court,” Mr Okoye said.
Although Mr Idris may have attended the event with the hope that the Supreme Court would rule in his favour, officials declined to explain his invitation.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the spokesperson, the NGF, Abdulrazak Barkindo, in a telephone interview, he declined to comment.
Spokesperson of the governor of Zamfara state, Ibrahim Dosara, also told PREMIUM TIMES, he could not speak for Mr Idris.
Efforts to contact the Zamfara APC spokesperson, Shehu Ahmed, were unsuccessful. He did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his known telephone number.