The Supreme Court on Friday ruled against 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 party did not conduct valid primaries in the build-up to the elections. It also decided that a party that had no valid candidate cannot be said to have emerged winner of the general elections.
The court also ordered that the candidate with the second highest number of votes be declared winner of the election.
On Saturday, the Independent National Electoral Commission confirmed Bello Matawalle of the Peoples Democratic Party, as the governor-elect of the north west state. It also confirmed other PDP candidates for the National and State Assembly seats. The new winners received their certificates of return on Monday.
The ruling by the Supreme Court can be described as the climax of the political crisis currently rocking the state.
One person, however, who played a prominent role in the loss of APC’s hold in the state is a senator, Kabiru Marafa, who represents Zamfara Central.
Besides being at loggerheads with the state governor, Abdul’aziz Yari, the lawmaker has blamed the ruling party for the crisis in the state countless times.
Mr Marafa, who had lost his governorship aspiration during the controversial primaries, went ahead to form a faction of the party.
The electoral commission, INEC, had said it would not allow the APC field candidates in Zamfara because the party did not hold primaries within the stipulated time. Internal wrangling among leaders of the APC in Zamfara led to the inability to hold the primaries within the stipulated time.
While the APC faction loyal to Governor Yari claimed it held congresses and had candidates, the faction loyal to Mr Marafa, insisted no primaries held.
Although the party headquarters said no primaries held but consensus candidates were adopted within the stipulated time, the faction, led by the senator and 139 others, filed a suit against the party.
The plaintiffs were represented by a senior lawyer, Mike Ozekhome.
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.
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.
The electoral body respected this by including the names of APC candidates on ballot papers.
Marafa plods on
While the court process stalled, Mr Marafa did not succumb to pressure. He maintained that there was no primary election in the state and condemned the leadership of the party for supporting some candidates.
Even after one of the appellants and member of the House of Representatives, Aminu Jaji, withdrew his appeal, the lawmaker remained unshaken.
Mr Jaji had withdrawn his appeal challenging the judgment of a Zamfara State High Court asking INEC to recognise candidates of the APC for various offices in Zamfara State.
At a point when preparation for the elections were in top gear, Mr Marafa said he did not give a damn if APC lost the elections in Zamfara.
He challenged the party leadership for being ‘biased’ in its decision and also called for the resignation of the state governor.
He also recommended that Mr Yari should be prosecuted for treason.
“No compromise. Let him resign as governor, let me resign as senator and let us go and meet the people for elections.
“If he gets 10 per cent of what I get, I will resign. So, what else do I need. I think I am overripe to die if you want to kill me. They will say he died at the age of almost 60. I think it is a very good number. What I am afraid only is how I die. I don’t want to die telling lies.
“I don’t want to die procuring false and illegal judgements. If you come with that kind of thing, I will run. I don’t want to die, spending security votes when I resign as chief security officer.
“To me, Abdul’Aziz is supposed to be prosecuted for treason because what they did was treason and if allowed to stand, then we are laying a very bad precedence in this country. A day will come when maybe a president will do a similar thing,” he said while speaking at a press briefing.
Amidst the brawl with the state governor and his faction, Mr Marafa had said “it will be better to have another party in Zamfara than to have bad ones from APC just because APC wants to win.”
Bitter, sweet victory
Although not in his favour, the ruling comes as a ‘win’ for Mr Marafa in his quest for justice.
Political analysts also say the ruling has given the lawmaker bragging rights over the state governor – who has been his political foe for a while.
In his reaction to the ruling, the lawmaker said it is “a sweet, bitter but a huge victory for democracy.” He said Mr Yari, the outgoing governor, had locked horns over control of the state’s chapter of APC prior to the party’s primaries.
“No matter how long, truth will always prevail over falsehood. Today’s judgement is a victory for democracy, triumph of truth over falsehood and redeemer of the integrity of the judiciary.”
According to him, “as we all know, the APC was unable to conduct primaries in Zamfara, following Mr Yari’s thuggery and violent machinations.”
He also urged his “adversaries to take the judgement as the will of Allah and a lesson that only Allah, the Almighty, can crown a king.”
“Judiciary remains the last hope of the common man, therefore all hands must be on deck to strengthen it,” he said.
In his reaction, Mr Yari said the ruling was the will of God.
He said, “the members have also done their best in ensuring the viability and capability of the party to continue to hold on to power to provide more dividends of democracy to the people of the state, but as Allah wanted it, the Supreme Court judgement went the way it happened.”