The Supreme Court yesterday nullified the victory of the governor-elect of Zamfara State, Alhaji Mukhtar Idris, as well as all the candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state, who emerged as winners in the various elections during the last general elections.
The apex court in a unanimous judgement, held that the APC did not have any valid candidates in all the elections that held in the state, while awarding a cost of N10million against the party. In a judgement that was delivered by a five-man panel of Justices led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, held that the ruling party did not conduct valid primary elections to nominate candidates for any elective position in the state.
The apex court further maintained that the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal was right when it held that the APC did not field any eligible candidates in the 2019 general election in Zamfara State. Consequently, the apex court, in its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Paul Galinje, dismissed an appeal the APC lodged to challenge the appellate court’s judgement.
The candidate of the APC had earlier been declared winner of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), after he polled 534,541 votes despite controversies trailing his candidacy. The PDP candidate Bello Mohammed Matawalle who came second in the election is expected to be declared the governor-elect in the state, after INEC’s meeting on Monday. The ruling also affects all APC Zamfara Senators, members of the House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates who were initially declared winners.
“I find that the lower court was right in holding that there were no primary elections in Zamfara State. The appeal had no merit and it should be dismissed. It is accordingly dismissed. The party that has no candidate cannot be declared a winner of the election.
”Therefore, all votes that are credited to such party is deemed as wasted voted. Candidates of parties with the highest number of valid votes cast with the required spread stands elected in Zamfara. “Candidate other than the first appellant with the highest vote stand elected.
A cost of N10 million is awarded against the appellant,” the Supreme Court held. Idris and others had filed an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which nullified the primaries that produced all the APC candidates for the last general elections in the state at all levels. The court had held that due process was not followed in the conduct of the primaries, but not satisfied with the decision of the court, the governor-elect approached the apex court to challenge that decision.
Residents happy, 2 die in wild jubilations Many people in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, yesterday stormed out and flooded the major streets in jubilation to show their happiness after the apex court ruling, leading to the loss of two lives via stray bullets. Immediately the news of the Supreme Court judgement filtered in the state around 9:45 am, the major roads of Gusau that comprises of Ahmadu Bello Way, Sani Abacha way which linked up to the state Government House Gusau were flooded by hundreds of youths, some on bikes and some motorists, showing happiness over the judgment.
The jubilating youths took several hours going round Gusau metropolis celebrating, chanting different slogans, such as; ‘Retirement Dole’, ‘Change of Government has come’, and ‘we thank God for the ruling’ among many others, to express their happiness. Speaking with Saturday Telegraph, some residents said they showed their happiness for the court judgment because of their belief that a new government will come to the state to give justice.
A resident, Aminu Abdullahi Bakura, who is also celebrating on the judgment said, majority of the people in the received news as a welcome development and we are behind any one that come to rule the state apart from the present government of the state. “In fact, we are tired with the way the present government is ruling the state, so, we don’t mind whoever will come over to rule the state, provided it is from either the PDP which the Supreme Court pointed as the government or the APC G8, but we are against the continuity of the present government of the day”, said Bakura.
Saturday Telegraph also witnessed jubilations in some of the local government areas. In Maradun town, the local government area and home town of PDP governorship candidate, Bello Mohammed Matawalle, who is now the governor elect, there was wild jubilations, as the celebration claimed the lives of two youths who were killed by police strayed bullets in a bid to control the crowd. In Gusau metropolis, some groups of people were seen discussing the situation in joyful mood, while some prayed for the next government to come and end the sufferings and killings of innocent people. Another resident, Nature Magaji Maradun, who visibly happy with the news, said: “Today’s decision of the Supreme Court is a great testimony that truth and patience will always excel. We wish to extend our gratitude to the Almighty Allah and the entire people of Zamfara especially the PDP supporters for their patience and good conduct while the court judgment lasted”.
Verdict, sweet, bitter victory -Marafa
Reacting, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa, described the judgement as a sweet, bitter but a huge victory for democracy, Zamfara and the country as a whole. In a statement he personally signed, Marafa said no matter how long, truth will always prevail over falsehood, saying that the victory is a triumph of truth over falsehood and redeemer of the integrity of the judiciary. “As we all know the APC was unable to conduct primaries in Zamfara state following Yari’s thuggery and violent machinations.
With this, lesson has been served that only strict adherence to rule of law and due process will take the country to the next level as being advocated by President Muhammadu Buhari. “This Judgement has shown that the president is religiously sincere with his non-interference stance on function of other arms of government. He has further endeared himself to Nigerians and the world for resisting all efforts by Abdulaziz Yari to force him to interfere on the judgement”. Marafa urged his adversaries to take the judgement as the will of God and a lesson that only the Almighty God can crown a king, while commending the Justice Tanko Muhammad for leading the Justices aright, saying, the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man.
“The acting CJN and the Justices that delivered the judgement have with this judgement, laid the foundation for the redemption of the battered image of the judiciary as painted by the likes of justice Bello Shinkafi. “I will like to thank the judiciary especially the Justice Tom Yakubu team at the Appeal Court and now the Ag CJN team in the Supreme Court, the courageous position of INEC, the unflinching support of the people of Zamfara State, my family for their wonderful support and prayers, my well-wishers and admirers in Nigeria and diaspora for their overwhelming support. “Judiciary remains the last hope of the common man, therefore all hands must be on deck to strengthen it” he said.
Verdict changes Senate configuration
The judgement has however changed the configuration of the 9th Senate as the PDP will now gain three more seats to make 44 senators as against its earlier 41. Before the judgement of the apex court, the APC had 65 senators-elect which would now be reduced to 62; PDP had 41 and the Young Progressives Party (YPP) 1, while the results of Imo North and Imo East senatorial districts are yet to be determined. The incumbent senator representing Imo North, Benjamin Uwajumogu of the APC, who was not satisfied with the outcome of the election in his district, had approached the court to void the result, a matter that is still pending in court. For Imo West, INEC had withdrawn the certificate of return it earlier issued to the Governor of the State, Rochas Okorocha, after the returning officer in the election, alleged that he declared the Governor winner under duress.
This therefore, means that the 9th Senate currently has 107 senators-elect while two seats are pending. Unless the issues around the two senatorial results are resolved as quickly as possible, the districts may not have representatives during the inauguration of the 9th Senate in less than three weeks.
Meanwhile, in Bauchi State, although the INEC declared APC as winner of the Bauchi South senatorial election, the internal wrangling in the party has made the electoral umpire not to announce any particular candidate as the winner. A breakdown of the current senators-elect shows that the APC won 14 Senate seats from the South West while the PDP won 4 in the last senatorial elections. Also, in the South East geopolitical zone, the ruling part secured one seat, YPP one and the PDP got 11 seats as the results of Imo North and Imo East senatorial districts are pending final declaration. In the South South, the PDP captured a total of 15 senatorial seats while the APC secured three seats. The ruling party however won in the North Central, where it secured 13 seats while the opposition party grabbed only five senatorial seats. In the North West, which has the largest number of seven states, the APC won 17 seats while its rival PDP managed to get four seats. Similarly, in the North East, APC won a total of 14 senatorial seats while the Peoples Democratic Party got four seats. In the nation’s political capital, Abuja, which has only one senatorial district, the incumbent Senator, Philip Aduda of the opposition party, won the seat. With the current configuration, it is obvious that the ruling party is going to enjoy simple majority in the next dispensation just as is the status in the elapsing 8th Senate.
INEC meets, to make reaction public on Monday
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it will take a decision based on the ruling and make its decision known to the public on Monday. The commission in a statement by its National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said it would meet to deliberate on the issues raised in the Supreme Court judgement. INEC in the statement said it held an emergency meeting on Friday to consider the court’s decision. The statement read: “Following the Supreme Court’s judgment delivered today 24th May 2019 on the governorship, National and State Assembly elections held in Zamfara State, the independent National Electoral Commission (lNEC) held an emergency meeting to consider the court’s decision. “The Supreme Court ruled that the All Progressives Congress (APC) did not hold valid party primaries as required by law
“It held that all the votes scored by the APC in the said elections are wasted votes and declared that the candidates of political parties with the second highest valid votes and the requisite spread should be declared as having been elected. “The commission will meet again on Saturday (today) 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 27 May 2019.”
Zamfara: Judiciary has shown courage, professionalism – Atiku, Dickson
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Seriake Dickson, have said that the judiciary has displaced courage and professionalism, by the ruling. In a separate statements, Atiku and Dickson, said the judgement was “pleasing to the ears” and commended the Supreme Court justices for putting Nigeria first. Atiku in a statement by his media adviser, Paul Ibe stated that “When justice prevails, the people rejoice, chains are broken, freedom is multiplied and society is enriched.”
He commended the apex court justices for putting aside the interests of the powerful and upholding the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians. “God first, Nigeria second, must be our priority as trustees of the people,” Atiku stressed. The former Vice President expressed the hope that “the Supreme Court and our Lords Justices will let Lady Justice have full reign in other petitions that will come before them, and that good conscience, fear of God and the rule of law will prevail.
“In so doing, they will write their names for good in the sands of time and avoid the infamy that oppressors wish to thrust on them as their legacy.” He congratulated the beneficiary of the judgment, Hon. Bello Matawalle and the people of Zamfara, adding “the storm is over and peace and calm are coming to Zamfara.” Dickson on his part, said the ruling by the five-member panel of the Supreme Court lead by Justice Paul Adamu Galinji, was victory for justice and democracy in action. He congratulated the gubernatorial candidate of PDP, Mutawalle, “on his victory at the Supreme Court whose ruling returned him as the winner of the gubernatorial election in the state. “I also commend the leaders of the PDP and the teeming supporters of the party in Zamfara for their dedication and resilience. “And very importantly, I thank the judiciary, once again, for standing up to the expectations of the wellmeaning Nigerian public as a strong, impartial arbiter that could be trusted.
APC agonises, as governors console Yari
The National Leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday agonized over the judgment of Supreme Court judgement on Zamfara State governorship and legislative elections. The news of the judgement threw the APC National Working Committee and the staff at the National Headquarters into a moody situation. Members of the Working Committee who had been to the secretariat for a meeting expressed different reservations of the Supreme Court ruling. This is coming as the APC Governors’ Forum visited and consoled the Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Abdullazizi Yari over the Supreme Court judgement. The governors, led by its new chairman, Kebbi State governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu, trouped to the Zamfara State governor’s house in Maitama, Abuja after the judgment to console the governor. This led to the new chairman of the Progressives Governor Forum, Atiku Bagudu, rescheduling his maiden press briefing.
According to the Director General of the PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman, who called off the briefing said the chairman and other Progressives Governor could not meet with the Press because of the Zamfara judgment. He said, the PGF chairman led other APC governors to the house of the Zamfara State governor. Among the governors that went with Bagudu to Yari’s house were governors of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello; Edo State, Godwin Obaseki; and Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi. On the election of Bagudu as the PGF chairman, the Director General said “The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), comprising all state governors elected on the platform of the APC, at their meeting, on Thursday, at Imo State Government Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, unanimously elected Kebbi State Governor HE Atiku Bagudu as Chairman of the Forum. Speaking on the ruling, the Deputy National Chairman (South), Chief Niyi Adebayo, said it was a bad day for the party.
Lamenting that there was no way the party would have been happy with the ruling. Also, the APC National Organising Secretary, Chief Emma Ibediro said it was an agonised day, expressing reservations over the ruling. The National Vice Chairman, South South, Hilliard Eta in his reaction said: “It’s a sad day for every member of the APC. It’s a very sad day for us.” On internal democracy, he said: “for me, I am a democrat. The issue of internal democracy is a serious problem in our country but it is work in progress. We have made a lot of stride in the party.” On whether the party mismanaged the crises in Zamfara, he said: “I don’t think that the party mismanaged the crises in our Zamfara state chapter. We don’t have any option than to accept the judgement of the Supreme Court and go ahead and learn some lessons from it. That is what I can say for now
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