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S’Court hands Zamfara to PDP, fines APC N10m

Apex court also uphelds Fayemi's victory in Ekiti

THE Supreme Court has affirmed the Court of Appeal’s nullification of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the 2019 gubernatorial election in Zamfara State and awarded the sum of N10 million against the party.

The APC, whose governorship candidate was Mukhtar Shehu, had been declared the winner of the Zamfara state governorship and state assembly elections held in March this year.

Prior to the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had barred the APC from fielding any candidate because the party had failed to hold its primary election within the window provided by the electoral commission.

An intra-party conflict had caused a division within the Zamfara APC, causing the two factions to hold parallel primaries, none of which was recognised by INEC.

However, the APC faction that is loyal to the state Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, obtained a judgement from a state high court which directed INEC to recognise the candidates that emerged from the primary election held by the faction. INEC complied with the court order and reinstated the APC into the ballot, but the other APC faction, led by Kabiru Marafa, a serving member of the Senate, filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal.

After the election, the APC won the governorship position as well as majority of the state assembly seats.

On March 25, however, the Court of Appeal delivered its judgement and agreed with the appellant that the APC ought not to have any candidate for the Zamfara state elections.

Dissatisfied, the other faction took their appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal.

Delivering the judgement on Friday, the panel of five Supreme Court Justices, led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, dismissed the appeal and upheld the judgement of the Court of Appeal and voided all the votes cast for APC in the Zamfara election.

Bello Matawalle, candidate of the PDP in the Zamfara guber election, is likely to become the state’s next governor.

The court further ruled that the “candidate other than the first appellant with the highest vote stand elected”.

“A cost of N10 million is awarded against the appellant,” the court ruled.

Recall that because of the pending court cases, INEC had decided to withhold the certificates of return for the governor and legislators-elect in Zamfara until the cases were determined.

As it stands now, it is likely that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the elections, Bello Matawalle, who came second with a total vote of 189,452 will be declared the winner of the election and returned elected.

When this happens, it would bring the total number of States won by the PDP in the 2019 general elections to 15, namely: Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, and now Zamfara.

This would also mean that the states won by the APC has been reduced to 14 namely: Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Plateau, and Yobe.

Elections did not hold in seven states, namely Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Ondo and Osun. INEC has fixed the Bayelsa and Kogi elections for November 16, 2019. Both States are currently governed by the PDP and APC respectively.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has affirmed the electoral victory of Kayode Fayemi in the Ekiti State governorship election held in July 2018.

The court held that the appeal was lacking in merit because the judgements of both the election petitions tribunal and that of the Court of Appeal in the case were the same. It is only where there has been an established breach of the law in the two judgements, that the Supreme Court could decide otherwise.

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