Saturday, 25 May 2019

Supreme Court's Verdict:INEC Holds Emergency Meeting Today On Zamfara

The Independent National Electoral Commission will meet today to brainstorm on the Friday judgment of the Supreme Court, which annulled the victories of the All Progressives Congress candidates in the February and March general elections in Zamfara State.

Today’s meeting is a continuation of the emergency meeting which the commission started on Friday.

The commission has however said its decision will be communicated to the public on Monday.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday after its meeting.

He said, “Following the Supreme Court’s judgment delivered on Friday May 24, 2019 on the governorship, national and state assembly elections held in Zamfara State, the Independent National Electoral Commission held an emergency meeting to consider the court’s decision.

The commission will meet again tomorrow (today), Saturday May 25, 2019 to further deliberate on the issues arising from the said judgment, while the final decision on the matter will be communicated to the public on Monday, May 27, 2019.”

The Supreme Court had on Friday nullified the victory of the All Progressives Congress candidates in the 2019 General Elections held in Zamfara State.

In a unanimous judgment of a five-man panel led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, the apex court declared the first runners-up in the elections in the state as the winners of all the offices earlier declared to have been won by the APC and its candidates.

The APC had earlier been declared the winner of the governorship election as well as the three senatorial seats, seven House of Representatives seats and the 24 state House of Assembly seats contested for in the February 23 and March 11, 2019 elections in the state. The APC won all the 36 elective offices available in the state.

But with the Friday’s pronouncement of the apex court, the party lost all the 36 positions to the Peoples Democratic Party, which had come second in the various positions.

The outgoing Governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari, by virtue of the Supreme Court judgment lost the senatorial seat which he had won to the PDP and its candidate.

The apex court, by the judgment on Friday, settled the long-drawn political dispute in two judgments delivered on two appeals filed by the APC and the candidates of the party fielded in the 2019 General Elections in the state.

The appeals were marked, SC/377/ 2019 and SC/378/2019.

Justice Paul Galinje, who read the lead judgments in the two appeals, upheld the March 25, 2019 verdict of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal to the effect that the APC did not conduct primary elections for the 2019 General Elections and had no candidate for any of the polls in the state.

He described the votes polled by the APC candidates in the elections as wasted, adding that the party and the candidates with the next highest votes and the required spread in the various elections were the valid winners.

The apex court, through Justice Galinje’s judgment, awarded a cost of N10m against the APC and its co-appellants in one of the two appeals decided on Friday in favour of the Independent National Electoral Commission and some 140 respondents belonging to the Senator Kabir Marafa faction of the party in the state.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Galinje held, “I find and hold that the 1st appellant (APC) never conducted primary elections. I come to the conclusion that this appeal as constituted has no merit.”

Issuing consequential orders which flowed from the pronouncement that the APC did not conduct primary elections, Justice Galinje held, “For avoidance of doubt, the party that had no candidate in the 2019 General Elections cannot win.

“This makes all the votes credited to the candidates of the 1st appellant (APC) in the 2019 General Elections in Zamfara State wasted votes.

“For that reason, it is hereby ordered that candidates of the parties other than the 1st appellant that polled the highest number of votes and the required spread stand elected into the various offices contested for in Zamfara State in the 2019 General Elections.

“I award the cost of N10m against the appellants in favour of the 1st to 140th respondents as well as the 180th respondents and the cost shall be paid by the appellants.”

Justice Galinje also cautioned politicians against the practice of not playing by the rules.

He said, “Democratic system in this country was borrowed from the United States of America.  Those from whom we borrowed have forged ahead and developed into an economically viable nation.’’

He regretted that “for this our dear country” out of the ignorance or mischief of politicians, Nigeria continued to be held down.

He added, “If care is not taken, the class of politicians we have today will take this country back to stone age which will consume all of us. I urge all to always play the game according to the rules.”

Other members of the apex court’s panel, Justices Muhammad (Acting CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, John Okoro, and Uwani Abba-Aji, agreed with the lead judgments delivered by Justice Galinje.

The legal battle was between the factions of Yari and Senator Kabir Marafa in the APC in Zamfara State.

The Yari faction, represented in court by Mahmud Magaji (SAN), had maintained that the party conducted valid primaries in the state; but the Marafa faction, represented by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) claimed otherwise.

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