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APC has no candidate in Zamfara State – Appeal court

By The Nigerian Voice
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The lawyer to the opponents of Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, insists that there will be no candidates from the ruling party at the March 9, governorship and state legislative elections in the state

CONTRARY to the news making the rounds, Mike Ozekhome, SAN and counsel to Kabiru Marafa, a senator, and his group, has insisted that the All Progressives Congress, APC, will not field candidates in the governorship state assembly elections in Zamfara State.

In a statement signed by Ozekhome, the lawyer pointed at the judgement of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, February 21, dismissed the appeal filed by APC, challenging the judgment of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, which had affirmed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s, stand that the APC did not conduct any primary election in Zamfara State and that the commission was right to have rejected APC’s candidates from the state. The dismissal followed an application by the APC to withdraw the appeal. The application was granted and the appeal dismissed accordingly.

The judgment given by the Court of Appeal on Thursday, February 21 stated that the appeal partially succeeded and went ahead to set aside the judgment of the lower court on jurisdiction only, but refused to grant the cause of action component of the appeal. By this, the Court of Appeal refused to grant the INEC any order to revive candidates of the APC from Zamfara State.

Ozekhome’s statement said: “The cross appeal, therefore, partially failed because, from the onset, APC had a complaint against INEC only. Governor Yari A.A had applied to join the case voluntarily. And Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in her judgment held that APC did not seek any reliefs against the second to 6th defendants” (i.e, Governor Yari and co). Therefore, considering the fact that Governor Yari and co did not file any counter claim or cross Appeal against the APC’s suit, she had gone ahead to hold that Yari and co “have nothing to add to this case.”

Hence, Ozekhome said further: “From the foregoing, it is clear that the cross Appeal by Yari and his group before the Court of Appeal, having partially failed, becomes at best, a mere academic exercise bereft of any utilitarian value to the entire case. The false assertion that the Court of Appeal had cleared the way for the APC to participate in Saturday’s election is therefore a lie from the pit of hell. It is nothing short of the desperate manoeuvres by frustrated politician holding on any available straw to smuggle themselves willy nilly into Saturday’s election. This cannot work.

“INEC is hereby reminded that there exists in addition to the above legal obstacles, a subsisting appeal which arose from the Zamfara State High Court judgment which is still extant and pending before the Sokoto division of the Court of Appeal , in Appeal no: CA/S/32/2019. In any event, the judgment of the Federal High Court , going by the judgment of the Court of Appeal still partially succeeded, since the Court of Appeal refused to make any clear mandatory orders directing INEC to receive any candidates from Yari group for the purpose of Saturday’s elections. INEC is therefore obligated and legally bound to stand by its earlier well founded position that APC, having never conducted any primaries in Zamfara state, have no candidates in the forthcoming elections in Zamfara state, except the presidential election. Any other act by INEC in fielding any candidates from the Governor Yari’s group or the “G-8” group will be illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.”

Citing its inability to conduct primaries before the stipulated deadline, the INEC had barred the ruling party from participating in the election in the north-west state.

On January 25, a federal high court in Abuja held that the INEC was right to have delisted names of candidates APC presented for the elections.

The court ruled in favour of the commission, stating that the APC failed to conduct primaries within the required period.

Some newspapers’ reports claimed that a three-man panel of the appellate court held that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to have entertained the suit, that it was an abuse of court process.

The panel said the suit at the federal high court was filed out of time.

The appellate court ruling comes a few days after Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, asked the INEC to postpone elections in Zamfara State, saying he was acting on a petition from a lwa firm.

In a letter dated February 13, 2019, Malami said that the recent court judgments had annulled the stand of the INEC that the APC did not conduct primaries in the state and therefore cannot field candidates.

But the AG claimed that the courts admitted that primaries were held, and therefore, urged the INEC to shift the elections to allow the APC catch up with other parties in preparing for the polls.

But addressing a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, Thursday, February 21, Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman, insisted that the APC in Zamfara would not field candidates.

Nevertheless, Governor Abdulaziz Yari has threatened that elections will not hold in Zamfara State without the APC participating in them.