The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reschedule elections in Zamfara State.
The reason is to enable the All Progressives Congress (APC) field candidates for the 2019 elections in the state.
The AGF, who stated this in a three-page letter dated February 13, 2019 and addressed to INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, argued that his decision was based on the judgment of the state High Court in suit No ZMS/GS/52/2018 between Sanusi Liman Dan-Alhaji and 37 others Vs APC and 144 others; and Appeal No: CA/S/23/2019.
He further told the electoral body that the directive was sequel to Section 38 and 39 of the Electoral Amendment Act 2010.
According to Malami, since the Court of Appeal has annulled the ground upon which the commission had based the cancellation of the APC primaries in the state, the party would need a little time to catch up with its contemporaries in the election.
He said granting APC the concession is not a favour but a right that inures to all contestants under similar circumstances.
“My office received a petition from the firm of M.A. Mahmud, (SAN) & CO in respect of the above subject matter, (copy attached for ease of reference) requesting that the subsisting judgment in Suit No. ZMS/GS/52/2018 – Sanusi Liman Dan-Alhaji & 37 ORS V. APC & 144 ORS be upheld and respected by INEC, as the Court of Appeal has upheld the Appeal No. CA/S/23/2019, thus effectively annulling the grounds upon which the purported cancellation of the APC primaries in Zamfara State by INEC was based.
“You may wish to recall that the Zamfara State High Court upheld the Zamfara APC primaries in the suit mentioned in the first paragraph above, held on October 3 and 7, 2018 for the governorship and the national and state legislative houses.
“You may further wish to recall that in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2018- APC V. INEC & 5 ORS, the Federal High Court held that the nullification of the said Zamfara APC primaries by INEC was lawful. However, this decision has been upturned in Appeal No CA/S/23/2019. Copy is also attached for ease of reference.
“In the circumstance and in consideration of the provisions of Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act, 2010, the law allows INCE the latitude and discretion to extend the time within which a political party may duly field a candidate for an election where unforeseen circumstances constrained such a party from doing so within the stipulated time frame.
“In this particular instance, the constraining circumstances that led to the delay in fielding candidate were caused by INEC’s refusal to comply with the Zamfara State High Court Judgment in the aforementioned suit to uphold the primaries as held. Moreover, INEC cannot foreclose the right of a political party to participate in elections without recourse to the Act. By the doctrine and principle of judicial precedence, the Appeal supersedes the Federal High Court’s Position in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2018 –APC V. INEC & 5 ORS.
“In view of the fact, now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the Primaries as valid, the APC in Zamfara State will need a little time to catch up with its contemporaries in the election. Granting them this concession is not necessarily a favour but a right that inures to all contestants under similar circumstances.
“Consequent on the above, INEC is invited to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal by admitting the results of the APC Zamfara State primaries and to also comply with the provisions of S.38 of the Electoral Act, which empowers INEC to postpone the election for the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly Elections,” Malami’s letter read.
Meanwhile, a Court of Appeal in Sokoto on Wednesday validated the position of the INEC that the APC in Zamfara State does not have candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state House of Assembly elections holding on February 16 and March 2.
The appellant court was presided over by Justice Jumai Sankey, with other members of the panel, Justices Ndukwe Anyanwu and Vincent Abiru.
The court dismissed the appeal and the motion filed by Governor Abdulaziz Yari and Alhaji Muktar Idris praying the court to be allowed to contest the elections.