Zamfara APC: Supreme Court fixes March 2 for judgment review

The Supreme Court has adjourned till March hearing in the application by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for a review of a judgment that barred the party’s candidate from participating in the governorship election in the state.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko, adjourned the matter after observing that some of the respondents in the case had not been served with the hearing notices.

Specifically, respondents 140-178 were not represented in court by counsel.

When the matter was called, Chief Robert Clerk announced appearance for the APC, while Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Taminu Inuwa (SAN) and Dr Adekunle Otituju announced appearance for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 140th and 180th respondents, respectively.

The 141st to 178 respondents were not represented in court as a result of service. Meanwhile, the court has ordered that hearing notices be issued to them before the next adjourned date.

This is the second time the application by the APC for a review will be coming before the court.

When the matter first came up on July 29, 2019, the apex court rejected the application.

A five-man panel of the court, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, in a ruling early on Monday, struck out the application marked: SC/377/2019 filed by the APC, seeking a review of the judgment.

The court rejected an effort by the counsel to the APC, Robert Clarke (SAN), to take a second look at the decision given earlier this year.

The decision was handed down by the apex court on July 29, 2019.

Reacting to the ruling, the lead counsel to the appellant, Robert Clarke, said the decision of the court was based on technicalities, stressing that the merits of his application were not looked into.

He added that he would tighten the loose ends that the judgment pointed out and submit his application again.

Chief Clarke had approached the Supreme Court to review its earlier judgment on the Zamfara governorship election.

On May 24, Justice Adamu Galunje of the Supreme Court held that the APC never conducted its primaries, a judgment that made the election of all the candidates who took part in the exercise null and void.

The court held that the Court of Appeal in Sokoto was right when it agreed with the respondents that the APC did not conduct primaries in Zamfara.

It added that the party that has no candidate cannot be said to have won an election, hence the votes cast for the APC in the election were wasted votes.

In the judgment sought to be set aside, the Supreme Court had declared that the APC in Zamfara State had no candidates in the 2019 general elections.

The APC governorship candidate, Muktar Idris, was declared the winner of the March election with 534,541 to defeat Bello Muhammad Matawalle of the PDP, who garnered 189,452, while the APC also won all the 24 seats in the State House of Assembly.

But in its judgment, the Supreme Court’s five-member panel of Justices, in a unanimous judgment, voided all votes cast for the APC and effectively sacked its candidates who were declared winners in the February 23 and March 16 general elections in the state by the INEC, ruling that the party had no candidates in the elections, as it failed to conduct primaries in accordance with its own rules and as required by law.

The panel, headed by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, in the judgment, delivered by Justice Paul Adamu Galinji, held that all votes cast for the APC were “wasted votes” and accordingly ordered candidates of other political parties that came second to take over as the duly elected contestants.

The panel also awarded the cost of N10 million against the APC in favour of the Kabiru Marafa faction of the party and other respondents in the appeal.

The Supreme Court has declared that the APC in Zamfara State had no candidates in the 2019 general elections.

The five-member panel of justices, in a unanimous judgment on Friday, held that the party the state failed to conduct primaries in accordance with the party rules.

In the lead judgment by Justice Paul Adamu Galinji, the apex court held that all votes cast for the APC as “wasted votes” and declared that all political parties with the second highest votes in the elections and the required spread are elected to the various elections.

The panel also awarded the cost of N10 million against the APC in favour of the Kabiru Marafa faction of the APC and other respondents in the appeal.

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