Friday, May 24, 2019 12:15 pm
The Supreme Court has invalidated the participation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly election in Zamfara.
Justice Paul Galinji, in delivering the lead judgment on Friday held that all votes cast for the APC in the elections amounted to wasted votes and efforts.
Galinji further said that the APC and all its candidates that participated in the elections gate crashed having not conducted lawful primaries.
According to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was right not have recognized the participation of the party in those elections.
Galinji therefore, ordered that that all political parties whose candidates scored the second highest votes in the elections and the required spread should be declared winners forthwith.
The five-member panel in a unanimous decision held that the Zamfara APC failed to conduct primaries in accordance with the party’s Constitution, the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution respectively.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that panel goes ahead to award the cost of N10 million against APC in favour of the Kabiru Marafa faction of the party.
The apex court had on May 17 fixed May 24 to deliver judgment in the two election appeals that sought to ascertain authentic candidates of the party in the state to contest the general elections.
NAN reports that the APC and Malam Sanusi Dan-Alhaji had instituted the case on the primary election conducted by the party for the nomination of candidates to participate in the last general election.
While adopting his address, Chief Lateef Fagbemi,SAN, Counsel for Dan-Alhaji, prayed the apex court to restore the Feb.13 judgment of the Zamfara High Court which allowed APC to field candidates in the general election.
Fagbemi submitted that the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which disqualified APC from nominating candidate for the election on the grounds that the party did not conduct lawful primary should be set aside.
He further argued that the lower court erred in law, adding that the decision was a miscarriage of justice.
Fagbemi said the APC had shown proof the party conducted a free and fair primary to elect the candidates that contested the governorship election, the National Assembly and the House of Assembly elections respectively.
However, Chief Mike Ozekhome,SAN, Counsel for Marafa and 142, all of the APC urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the Appeal Court.
Ozekhome submitted that the judgment was a copious description of how the APC in Zamfara failed to conduct primary election in accordance with the Electoral Act, party guideline and the 1999 Constitution.
He said the process failed both legal and integrity tests, adding that the exercise was not conducted to produce candidates for the last general election as his clients were fenced out.
Mr Tanimu Inuwa,SAN, Counsel for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) aligned himself with the argument canvassed by Ozekhome.
He further explained that the electoral body did not supervise any primary conducted by the party as mandated by law.
The premises of the apex court were thrown into jubilant mood as the respondents were seen hogging and celebrating themselves.
Some of them spoken to after the court session, simply described their legal action as an attempt to deepen democracy in the country and not an affront on the party as suggested in some quarters.