Saturday, 25 May 2019

Analysis On How INEC Will Declare PDP Winner Of Zamfara Election Based On Supreme Court's Verdict

Following yesterday’s Supreme Court judgement that voided all votes cast for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State, Dr. Bello Mutawalle of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who got 189,452 votes in the March 9 governorship election in the state looks good to be declared governor-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday.

All other candidates of the PDP in the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly elections conducted on February 23 and March 11, 2019 respectively are also to be declared winners on Monday by INEC.

Justice Paul Adamu Galinji, who read the lead judgement, declared all votes cast for the APC as “wasted votes” and announced that all political parties with the second highest votes in the elections and the required spread, were elected to the various offices.

“Only the votes of the PDP candidates and other qualified candidates will be tallied to determine total votes cast and work out spread. In this case, INEC has no option but to declare Mutawalle governor-elect, and other PDP candidates winners on Monday because they have met all the requirements. The other qualified candidates scored few votes,” said a source at an emergency meeting summoned by INEC immediately the Supreme Court verdict was delivered.

The source added: “For example, it implies that in the governorship election, the 534,541 scored by Mukhtar Shehu of the APC will be deleted in determining the total votes cast and the new figure used to compute spread for the governorship poll.

Analysts argued further that the judicial proclamation of the Supreme Court was watertight and left the APC and INEC with no room for mischief.

Without much ado, all the odds are in favour of the PDP which has succeeded in adding another state to the ones it already had.

At the end of the governorship polls on March 9, the APC won 15 states out of the 29 competed for, while the PDP won 14.

But with the Zamfara verdict, the PDP now has 15 of the 29 states, while APC is now second with 14 states.

PDP’s 15 states from the 2019 elections are now Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Oyo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Taraba, Rivers, Benue, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa and Zamfara.

APC 14 states from the same elections are Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Yobe, Lagos, Ogun, Borno, Kaduna, Kano and Plateau.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, in a statement yesterday said that the commission would make its final decision on the judgement known on Monday.

Okoye added: “The Commission will meet again tomorrow, Saturday 25th May 2019 to further deliberate on the issues arising from the said judgment.”

In a unanimous judgment by the five-member panel of Justices, the Supreme Court held that the APC failed to conduct primaries in accordance with the rules guiding political parties.

The decision voided the victory of Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu of the APC, who polled 534,541 to defeat Mutawalle. It also voided the victories of all the candidates of the APC in the Zamfara State and National Assembly elections.

Since PDP candidates came second in all the positions contested, its votes automatically form the bulk of the valid votes, going by the judgement of the Supreme Court, which described the votes recorded for APC as ‘wasted votes’.

It also implies that the PDP candidates have the required legal spread, considering the fact that the battle is now between them and other candidates with very low votes.

For example, in the governorship election, the PDP came second and its share of the total votes, less APC’s wasted votes, is over 60 per cent of the new valid votes cast, across the 14 LGAs of Zamfara State.

Reacting to the verdict, counsel to the respondent, Kabiru Marafa, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, said the decision would deepen, widen and strengthen the country’s democracy.

Ozekhome added that one lesson that should be learnt from the judgment was that parties must maintain internal democracy and cannot whimsically, capriciously and arbitrarily operate outside their constitution, guidelines, the Electoral Act and the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court has redefined our jurisprudence, showing that when a party damages its primaries, it can never reap the proceeds of its illegalities. That is why and how the PDP that came second has today produced the governor, all senators, all House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates today in one fell swoop.”

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