Zamfara State governor, Dauda Lawal, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have reacted to the verdict of the Court of Appeal declaring the state gubernatorial election as inconclusive.
The Court of Appeal sacked Mr Lawal of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh elections in Maradun Local Government, in four wards in Birnin Magaji Local Government and some polling units in Bukkuyum Local Government.
Sybil Nwaka-Gbagi, the judge who read the judgement, said the INEC should not have used IREV for the collation of results when the Supreme Court had ruled that it is not a result collation system but only for public viewing.
The three judges panel upheld four out of seven issues brought forward by the candidate of the APC Bello Matawalle.
“I hereby declare that the governorship election of 18th of March, 2023 is inconclusive. The return of the first respondent (Lawal) by the third respondent (INEC) is hereby set aside.
“The third respondent (INEC) is hereby directed to hold fresh elections in Maradun Local Government Area and the affected polling units in Birnin Magaji and Bukuyyum local government areas. This is the judgment of this honourable court,” the court held,” the judge read out.
In the March election, Mr Lawal scored 377,726 to defeat Mr Matawalle who scored 311,976. The difference between the two is 65,750.
Mr Matawalle has since been appointed the Minister of State Defense in President Bola Tinubu’s government.
The election tribunal sitting in Sokoto ruled in favour of Mr Lawal but the APC appealed the judgement.
Mr Lawal is expected to remain in office until the matter is finally decided by the Supreme Court.
Speaking to reporters in Gusau yesterday, Mr Lawal’s senior special assistant on public affairs, Mustapha Jafaru, said the state government and the governor are not worried by the court’s decision because it didn’t say the governor lost the election.
He insisted the people of Zamfara State would continue to support the governor because of his people-oriented programmes.
Mr Jafaru said the state government has the option of appealing the verdict to the Supreme Court.
“Court doesn’t work based on sentiments or assumptions. The court had passed a verdict and we have that option of going to the Supreme Court. We’re not worried because God and the people of Zamfara State are with us so, even if we go to the polls a hundred times, Dauda (Mr Lawal) will still win the election. We defeated them (APC) when they were in power and very strong but this is an election in some local government areas.
“They didn’t say Dauda (Mr Lawal) lost the election; they only said the election should be conducted in these certain areas. And we still have an option of going further to challenge the verdict. So, we’re not worried,” the governor’s spokesperson said.
The APC publicity secretary in the state, Yusuf Idris said the party and the former governor were happy with the verdict.
“We’re happy with the verdict as you know judiciary is the last hope of the people and it shows they’re capable of doing the right thing. We believe when the time for the rerun election is due, Dauda (Mr Lawal) will become history in Zamfara State,” he said.
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