Why Supreme Court ruled against APC in Zamfara

Supreme Court of Nigeria
Supreme Court of Nigeria

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the replacement of the All Progressives Congress members, elected in Zamfara State for different positions, after affirming a previous decision against the party’s primaries conducted in 2018.

The court, in a decision made by a five-member panel, presided over by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, ruled that there were no primaries conducted in Zamfara State by the APC and that the party could therefore not have emerged winner in any of the state elections.

According to the judgement read by Justice Paul Galinje, the apex court said the APC “could not have won the elections since it had no valid candidates in the said polls”.

“The lower court was right to hold that there were no valid elections conducted in Zamfara State. A party that had no candidate cannot be said to have won an election,” Mr Galinje said while reading the judgment.

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

Background

Two main factions of the APC had approached the court with separate applications challenging the decisions of the lower court regarding the party’s primaries.

In the first request, the National Working Committee of the APC led by its chairman, Adams Oshiomole, had approached the apex court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal in Sokoto State, which had nullified the primaries conducted in the state, amid controversies.

The first set of the respondents in this motion was the faction of the party led by a senator, Kabiru Marafa and 139 others.

The second set was led by another member of the party, Sanusi Liman, and 38 others while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) represented the third set of respondents. A member of the House of Representatives in the state, Aminu Jaji, also served as the 180th respondent in the matter.

In the second appeal, Sanusi Liman and 38 other APC members also approached the court with a motion against 145 respondents comprising INEC and the APC members.

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The crux of their applications was for the court to give a verdict regarding the validity or otherwise of the primaries conducted in the APC ahead of the 2019 elections.

It would be recalled that following a decision of the incumbent governor, Abdulaziz Yari, to conduct indirect primaries and ensure the emergence of his preferred governorship candidate, the state APC became divided.

That division worsened when the national body of the party dissolved the state party executives, three days to the deadline for the conduct of the primaries and barred Mr Yari from participating in the said primaries.

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.

But the various factions secured contradictory judgements creating further controversies regarding the candidacy of the elected members of the APC in all polls affecting flag bearers from the Zamfara APC.

One of such judgments was that given in Sokoto State which contradicted a decision by a Court of Appeal in Abuja, allowing Mr Yari’s candidate, Muhktar Idris and other APC members to participate in the said elections.

With the latest judgment, the victories of candidates of the Zamfara State APC in all of 2019 elections have been nullified.
Other candidates, who scored the next highest number of votes will now replace them.

Speaking during an interview with journalists after the judgement, a lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, told journalists that the consequential order made by the apex court affects both governorship and National Assembly elections in the state.

Consequently, Mr Yari’s preferred candidate, Mr Idris, who polled 534,541 will now be replaced by the candidate of the PDP, Bello Mutawalle who came second in the elections, with 189,452 votes.

Mr Yari who had emerged winner of the Zamfara State West senatorial seat will also be replaced with the candidate for the PDP, Lawal Hassan, who came second highest in the senatorial elections for that zone with 69,293 votes.

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