Senator Marafa reacts to INEC’s decision on Zamfara APC

Pictures of Senator Kabir Marafa.
Senator Kabir Marafa.

A senator, Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central) has described the decision of the electoral commission, INEC, to comply with an appeal court on Zamfara as the will of God.

He also appealed to his supporters to accept the decision of INEC.

Earlier, INEC said it has complied with the court order allowing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to field candidates in elections in Zamfara State.

The Court of Appeal on Thursday dismissed a lower court ruling that stopped the party’s candidates from contesting.

The governorship and state assembly elections are scheduled for February 23 and March 9.

The commission in a statement by its national commissioner, Festus Okoye, on Friday said, “The Commission has today in compliance with the said order restored the APC to the ballot in the National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections scheduled for 23rd February and 9th March 2019.”

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The APC was earlier barred by the commission from fielding candidates as a result of irregularities that made the party miss the deadlines for the submission of names.

Two courts, the Federal High Court in Abuja and the Zamfara State High Court, later issued conflicting orders on the matter.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court Abuja for “lack or want of jurisdiction on the part on the lower court”.

Although Mr Marafa had appealed the judgement of the Zamfara State High Court, the latest ruling, however, favoured the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari’s faction of the APC.

Marafa’s equanimity

In a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Marafa though unhappy with the development said: “it is what Allah has decided and destined, we have accepted it”.

“We tried our best but Allah knows the wisdom behind this. I have said it, that whatever comes out from the court, we will open our hands and accept it as Allah’s will. What we are fighting is injustice and nothing personal,” part of the statement read.

He thanked his supporters for their support. He also said, he has already filed an appeal at the Sokoto division of the Appeal Court ”which will come up soon”.

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He urged his supporters to remain law-abiding, and come out en masse to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari ”in tomorrow’s presidential election”.

“I’m appealing to my teeming supporters to be law abiding and shun anything that would cause confusion and breach of public peace.

“Please come out massively to vote for President Buhari. And for other elections vote for the candidates that will protect you and your properties in Senatorial and House of Representatives Elections. Vote according to your conscience,” he said.

Counsel kicks

However, in a separate statement, Mr Marafa’s counsel and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, said INEC’s interpretation of the court’s decision is ”a lie from the pit of hell”.

He explained that the Court of Appeal, in February, dismissed the appeal filed by APC challenging the judgment of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, which had affirmed INEC’s stand that the APC did not conduct any primary election in Zamfara state.

He said that INEC was right to have rejected APC’s candidates from Zamfara State.

“The dismissal followed an application by APC to withdraw the appeal. The application was granted and the appeal dismissed accordingly.

“Next was the cross-appeal filed by Yari & Co on jurisdiction and cause of action. The judgment given by the Court of Appeal today clearly stated that the appeal partially succeeded and went ahead to set aside the judgment of the lower court on jurisdiction only, but refuse to grant the cause of action component of the appeal.

“By this, the Court of Appeal refused to grant INEC any order to ‘revive’ candidates of the APC from Zamfara State. The cross Appeal therefore partially failed because, from the onset, APC had a complaint against INEC only,” he said.

He said the governor had applied to join the case voluntarily.

”And, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu in her judgment held that APC did not seek any relief against the 2nd to 6th dependants (Yari & Co) and considering that Yari and & Co didn’t file a counterclaim or cross action against APC in the suit, she now held that Yari & Co have nothing to add in this case.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the ‘cross appeal’ by Yari and his group before the Court of Appeal, having partially failed, becomes at best, a mere academic exercise bereft of any utilitarian value to the entire case.

“The false assertion that the Court of Appeal had cleared the way for the APC to participate in Saturday’s election is, therefore, a lie from the pit of hell. It is nothing short of the desperate minute by frustrated politician holding on any available straw to smuggle themselves willy nilly into Saturday’s election.”

“This cannot work. INEC is at this moment reminded that there exists in addition to the above legal obstacles, a subsisting appeal which arose from the Zamfara state High Court judgment which is still extant and pending before the Sokoto division of the Court of Appeal, in Appeal no: CA/S/32/2019,” the lawyer added.

Mr Ozekhome said the judgment of the Federal High Court, ”going by the judgment of the Court of Appeal still partially ‘succeeded’, since the Court of Appeal refused to make any clear mandatory orders directing INEC to receive any candidates from Yari group for Saturday’s elections”.

“INEC is therefore obligated and legally bound to stand by its earlier well-founded position that APC, having never conducted any primaries in Zamfara state, have no candidates in the forthcoming elections in Zamfara state, have no candidate in the forthcoming elections in Zamfara state, except the presidential election.

Any other act by INEC in fielding any candidates from the Governor Yari’s group or the “G-8” group will be illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever,” he said.

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