ANALYSIS: The 36 APC losers from Supreme Court’s ruling on Zamfara elections

Zamfara State map
Zamfara State on map

On Friday, the Supreme Court nullified the elections of all the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections.

The court ruled that the ruling party did not conduct valid primaries in the build-up to the elections.

A unanimous judgement by a five-member panel decided that a party that had no valid candidate cannot be said to have emerged winner of the general elections.

In this report, PREMIUM TIMES reviews how 36 candidates of the APC who contested for gubernatorial, senatorial, house of representatives and state assembly seats became losers from the supreme court ruling on the state.

The runner-ups are expected to be declared winners by the electoral body, INEC.

Background

Before the general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would not allow the APC field candidates in Zamfara because the party did not hold primaries within the stipulated time.

The controversy among leaders of the party in the state led to the inability to hold the primaries within the stipulated time.

While Governor Abdulaziz Yari’s faction claimed they held congresses and produced candidates, Senator Kabiru Marafa’s faction maintained that no primary held.

In fact, the national leadership of the party under the watch of Adams Oshiomhole admitted that no primaries held but claimed consensus candidates were adopted within the stipulated time.

Two different courts in Zamfara and Abuja later gave conflicting judgments on the position of INEC. A High Court sitting in Gusau, Zamfara State, ruled that the governing APC actually conducted primaries in the state and should be allowed to present candidates for the electoral contest while an Abuja court ruled otherwise.

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, on February 21 set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, for ‘lack or want of jurisdiction’ on the part of the lower court. INEC respected this by including the names of APC candidates on ballot papers.

The 36 Losers

According to INEC, APC won all the electoral seats in the state. A total of 36 candidates of the APC won the legislative and gubernatorial elections in the state.

Muktar Idris and his deputy, Usman Ahmed, won the governorship election. The party cleared the three senatorial district elections, seven house of representatives seat and all the 24 state house of assembly seats.

Mr Idris, a controversial candidate of the APC, was declared the winner of the Zamfara governorship election having won in the 14 local government areas of the state.

According to the official results announced by the state’s INEC returning officer, Kabiru Bala, Mr Idris polled 534,541 votes to defeat his closest opponent, Bello Matawalle, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 189,452 votes.

Ikra Bilbis was elected as a senator for Zamfara Central with 94,792 votes ahead of the PDP candidate, Hassan Muhammad, who scored 54,859 votes. Tijjani Yahaya-Kaura was declared the winner of Zamfara North senatorial seat with 68,027 votes ahead of Sahabi Ya’u of the PDP who polled 43,521 votes.

The outgoing governor of the state, Mr Yari, was declared the winner of Zamfara West Senatorial election with 153,626 votes, while Lawal Hassan of the PDP scored 69,293 votes.

The APC also won all the federal house of representative seats.

Ahmad Anka won Anka/Talata Marafa federal constituency, Muhammed Rini won Bakura/Maradun federal constituency, Zubairu Abdulmalik was declared the winner of Bungudu/Maru federal constituency and Bukkuyum Unaru Jibo won Gunmi/Bukkuyum federal constituency.

Rikiji Garba was declared the winner of Gusau/Tsafe federal constituency, Muhammed Birnin-magaji won in Kaura-Namoda/ Birnin-Mogaji federal constituency and Husaini Zurmi was declared the winner in Shinkafi/Zurmi federal constituency.

APC candidates were also declared winners of all the 24 seats in the Zamfara State House of Assembly.

Lawan Liman won Kaura Namoda North constituency, Abubakar Kaura won Kaura Namoda south constituency, Kabiru Moyi won Birnin Magaji constituency, Yusif Moriki won Zurmi East constituency, Mannir Aliyu won Zurmi west constituency and Shehu Maiwurno won Shinkafi constituency.

Tsafe East constituency was won by Aliyu Abubakar and Tsafe West constituency was won by Aminu Danjibua.

Gusau East constituency was won by Dalhatu Magami, Gusau West constituency was won by Sanusi Liman, Bungudu East constituency was won by Ibrahim Hassan, and Bungudu West constituency was won by Yakubu Bature.

Others are: Ibrahim Habu (Maru North constituency), Haruna Abdullahi (Maru south constituency), Mustapha Gado (Anka constituency), Isah Abdulmumini (Talata Mafara North constituency), Aliyu Kagara (Talata Mafara South constituency), Mohammed Sani (Bakura constituency), Yahaya Shehu (Maradun 1 constituency), Yahaya Abdullahi (Maradun 2 constituency), Aliyu Gayari (Gummi 1 constituency), Aminu Falale (Gummi 2 constituency), Yahaya Jibrin (Bukkuyum North constituency) and Tukur Dantawasa (Bukkuyum South constituency).

Tables Turn

Following the decision of the court, all the earlier winners have turned losers and the runners up, mostly PDP members become winners.

The joy of those elected was first short-lived by the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, on March 25 when the appeal court set aside the judgment delivered by the Zamfara High Court, allowing 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.

Delivering the lead judgment, which was adopted by two other justices, Tijjani Abubakar and Jamilu Tukur, 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

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

The matter proceeded to the Supreme Court and was decided on Friday. The apex court ruled against the appellant (APC) and ordered a fine of N10 million against the APC.

“Candidate other than the first appellant with the highest vote stand elected. A cost of N10 million is awarded against the appellant,” the court ruled.

This means PDP candidates who came second in all the elections could now be declared elected in the state.

On Friday afternoon, INEC released a statement saying it was reviewing the Supreme Court ruling and would announce a decision on its implementation on Friday.

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