A Federal High Court in Damaturu, Yobe State on Wednesday ruled that Nigeria’s Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, is not the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for Yobe North Senatorial District in next year’s election into the National Assembly.
The court ruled that Bashir Machina is the authentic candidate of the party having won the legally recognised primary supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The court ruled that Mr Lawan did not participate in the legally recognised primary election of the APC to select its candidate in the election held on 28 May.
With the ruling, Mr Lawan, a former university lecturer, will not be holding an elective office for the first time since 1999 when he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives for Bade/Jakusko Federal Constituency of Yobe State.
Mr Lawal did not participate in the original APC Yobe North primary because he was contesting to be the party’s presidential candidate.
Having failed to secure his party’s nod to run for president, Mr Lawal tried to reclaim the party’s ticket for Yobe North, a district he has represented since 2007.
Despite Mr Machina’s victory at the 28 May primary, the leadership of the APC submitted Lawan’s name as candidate for the district.
Mr Machina kicked and filed a suit praying the court should rule that he was the bona fide candidate of the party. He also asked the court to order the INEC to include his name in its final register of candidates for the National Assembly election.
INEC had refused to recognise either Mr Lawal or Mr Machina insisting it would only recognise the candidate the court rules was the authentic candidate of the party for the district.
Earlier in the month, there was a twist in the case when a staffer of INEC filed a motion countering the commission’s position.
In a document seen by this newspaper, the staffer dismissed the election that brought in Mr Machina and claimed that another primary election was conducted in the district with Mr Lawan emerging as the winner.
A civil society organisation, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), denounced the development wondering if INEC would be able to deliver credible elections in 2023.
But INEC quickly distance itself from the unnamed staffer explaining that he acted on his own
“The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to a counter affidavit purportedly filed in the Federal High Court, Damaturu Judicial Division relating to the Yobe North Senatorial District primary election,” the commission’s spokesperson, Festus Okoye, said in a statement.
“Notwithstanding the matter in Court and without prejudice to the consideration or likely outcome of the case in court, the Commission reiterates its earlier position that it stands by the report of its monitoring team and it was on the basis of that report that the Commission did not publish the name and personal particulars of any candidate for the Yobe North Senatorial District,” Mr Okoye said.
He also said NEC will “review its quality assurance protocols, including the preview by appropriate ranking officials of all processes filed on its behalf to ascertain their correctness in all material particulars with all reports and all information at its disposal before their presentation so that a situation like this is not repeated.”
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