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PDP, Malami disagree over letter directing INEC to shift polls in Zamfara


Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN)

The National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday accused the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, of writing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to postpone the elections in Zamfara State.He claimed that the correspondence was part of efforts by the ruling All Progressives Congress APC to “arm-twist INEC and the judiciary to take illegal action in their favour.”

Addressing reporters in Abuja, Secondus alleged: “What the AGF is seeking is not backed by law. He is an interested party in this matter and has no moral right to advise INEC.“The inability of the APC to field candidates due to self-inflicted crisis when other parties did within the stipulated period for the election is not covered by Sections 38 & 39 of the Electoral Act 2010 which the AGF is relying on in his dubious advice.

“I therefore call on INEC to follow the dictates of the law and continue in its plan to achieve a credible election.”Reacting, the AGF refuted the claim, describing it as false and misleading.

In a statement, he said the letter in question was a reaction to a petition from M.A. Mahmud informing his office of the subsisting Court of Appeal decision, which upheld the APC primaries in the state. According to the statement, the AGF stated that he only wrote INEC informing it of the development and requested the commission to comply by extending the time within which the political party may field its candidate in the gubernatorial election.

It reads in part: “It is pertinent to note that the constraining circumstances that led to the delay in fielding a candidate were caused by INEC’s refusal to comply with the Zamfara State High Court judgment which upheld the said APC primaries.

“INEC had relied on a Federal High Court decision which nullified the primaries. However, the Court of Appeal decision in reference has now effectively overturned this decision and upheld the said APC primaries. “It is also relevant to reiterate the provisions of sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act, 2010 give INEC the latitude and discretion to extend the time within which a political party may duly field a candidate for an election where unforeseen circumstances constrained such a party from doing so within the stipulated time frame.”

But a human right lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has insisted that “there was never a time the Court of Appeal upheld the APC primaries in Zamfara State as valid.” He described Malami’s interpretation of the ruling as erroneous.However, erstwhile president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has asked the AGF to withdraw the correspondence.He therefore urged INEC to discountenance the advice of the nation’s chief law officer.

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