Will INEC Clear Zamfara APC Candidates?

Zamfara: We're Going To Appeal Both Judgements

UMAR MOHAMMED in this report writes on the chances of the embattled Zamfara APC to have its candidates listed among those to contest in the forthcoming general elections

The cloud is still dark in Zamfara as claims and counter claims shrouded the political circle over last Wednesday’s Appeal Court, Sokoto, verdict on the All Progressives Congress (APC) case.

The verdict of the Appeal Court has thrown All Progressives Congress  (APC) supporters and the entire political class into a state of confusion over whether Zamfara APC would field candidates or not.

The first shot that sparked off the confusion emanated from the release issued via social media by the Governor’s spokesman, Ibrahim Dosara, stating that “Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto, has today Wednesday February 13, 2019, dismissed the appeal filed before it by Aminu Sani Jaji, praying for the nullification of the judgement by the Zamfara State High Court on the state APC Primaries.

The judges who were appointed on last Monday by the President of the Court of Appeal, following an allegation leveled against the hitherto judges handling the case, dismissed the appeal by Aminu Sani Jaji seeking the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal to nullify  the judgement by the Zamfara State High Court.

The appeal by Aminu Sani Jaji was struck out for lack of merit.

Following this development, the judgement by the Zamfara State High Court stands. This has now given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the power to include Zamfara state APC candidates in the forthcoming elections”.

In a detailed explanation by the lawyer to the plaintiffs, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the hope for the APC to partake in the upcoming elections on 23rd of February and 9th of March, 2019, were dashed by the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto, presided over by Justice Jumai Hannatu Sankey, with other members of the panel including Justices Ndukwe Anyanwu and Vincent Abiru.

The court of Appeal upheld the argument of Chief Mike Ozekhome and Isiaka Dikko (SAN), that the notice of discontinuance earlier filed on the 11th of February, by Hon Sani Jaji under Order 11 Rules 1 and 5 of the Court of Appeal Rules had completely extinguished the appeal upon which Muktar Shehu Idris’ Counsel, Mr. Mahmud Magaji (SAN) had predicated his motion filed on 8th of February 2019, praying the Court of Appeal to grant him interlocutory orders allowing Muktar to contest the governorship election, and Governor Abdulaziz Yari and others to contest for Senatorial seats, House of Representatives and state assembly elections before the main appeal is heard.

The Court of Appeal in dismissing Jaji’s withdrawn appeal also made consequential orders dismissing the motion of Governor Yari and Alhaji Muktar Shehu Idris amongst other applicants who had  asked to be allowed to contest the elections pending the hearing of the main appeal.

The court  agreed fully with Ozekhome who had cited several Supreme Court decisions and argued that once the appeal was discontinued, Yari and Muktar who had not been cross appealed or asked for variation under Order 9 of the Court of Appeal Rules cannot compel Hon Jaji to go on with his appeal, or predicate their prayers to be allowed to contest on a non existent appeal which has died. The court therefore dismissed the appeal and the motion filed by Yari and Muktar praying the Court to be allowed to contest the elections.

The judgement therefore validates the long held position by the INEC that APC has no candidates in the 23rd February NASS and 9th March Governorship and State Assembly elections.

Also, in his reaction to the court verdict, chairman of the  Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, said that the two judgements of Court of Appeals in Sokoto and Abuja had knocked out APC in Zamfara for now.

“We are back to status quo, that is, no candidates for APC in Zamfara,” he said.

Marafa in a statement said, “Contrary to the erroneous information being peddled by some   persons, the Court of Appeal in Sokoto didn’t clear APC candidates in Zamfara.

“In the Sokoto division, the Court of Appeal refused to entertain the motion filled by Yari’s counsel seeking the enforcement of the judgement of the Zamfara High Court. The motion for the enforcement was rested on the appeal filled by Rep Sani Jaji and since the appeal was withdrawn, the motion collapsed with it and was therefore dismissed.

“In the Abuja division, a similar motion seeking stay of execution filled by Yari counsel was withdrawn by the counsel himself, who also admitted in the open court that the motion ought not to have been filed because Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu did not give any order that can be stayed. She simply commended INEC and maintained that it (INEC) acted within its powers and that APC failed to prove its case that it conducted primaries in Zamfara.

She thereafter dismissed the case. Consequently, the Appeal court struck out the motion”.

“The motions having failed in both divisions of the courts in the same day, it is very clear that we are back to square one, that is, No APC candidates in Zamfara.”

“The mis-information making the rounds in the social media are nothing but wicked lies peddled by dying desperate politicians that are afraid of going into compulsory retirement, they should therefore be disregarded and  ignored”.

However, opposition parties have descended heavily on the APC, and the party in currently under heavy defensive posed by challenges, criticisms and rebukes from more than 30 opposition parties during the signing of peace accord at the state police command, cordinated by the newly deployed police commissioner Mr. Celestine Okoye.

Senator Sa’idu  Dansadau, the gubernatorial candidate of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) had during the event, while raising objection against the inclusion the APC in the exercise, suggested however that rather than signing a peace accord, it would be more sensible to sign an undertaking to ensure that any erring political party is punished accordingly.

Similarly, the governorship candidate of All Ptogressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Hon. Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi objected to the inclusion of the state APC as a party to the signing of the peace accord as according to him, “APC has no candidates in Zamfara and is therefore not expected to legally participate in the coming elections.

Other representatives who also spoke against the attitude of the APC ruling party include the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP Hon. Mahadi Aliyu Gusau, Muhammad Bello Bakyasuwa representing the party’s factional governorship candidate  Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa and Hon. Muhammad Sani Takori Gummi APDA guber candidate.

Prominent personalities from the APC ruling party who responded to the oppositions negative comments include the state APC chairman Hon. Lawali Liman Kaura, and Senator Tijjani Yahaya representing Zamfara North.

Both personalities hold the view that the ruling  APC deserves the right to join in the peace accord since apart from the guber elections, there is the presidential election in which the APC has the right to participate.

The latest Appeal Court verdict has created confusion and uncertainty amongst the APC supporters, especially, the bigwigs, who might have started having a second thought of either defecting or forming alliance with the smaller parties.