Supreme Court ends APC’s hope in Zamfara
The Supreme Court Friday upheld the ruling of an appellate court that there were no valid election primaries in Zamafara State prior to the 2019 general elections.
The ruling effectively ended the hope of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of leading the northwestern state for the next four years.
The ruling also affects all candidates of the APC that contested and won the Zamfara State House of Assembly elections.
A court of appeal in Sokoto ruled in March that no valid primaries were conducted by the APC in the state considered an APC stronghold.
That ruling was upheld unanimously by a five-member panel of the top court.
The court insisted that the APC did not have a valid candidate and could not have emerged winner of the elections. The party was also ordered to pay a N10 million fine.
“Candidate other than the first appellant with the highest vote stand elected. A cost of N10 million is awarded against the appellant,” the court ruled.
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 a jubilant mood as the respondents were seen hugging and celebrating with 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.