Supreme Court reserves decision on Zamfara

The Supreme Court has reserved judgement on the application filed by the Abdulaziz Yari faction of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for a review of its May 24, 2019 judgement that sacked all the candidates of the party that won various positions in Zamfara State in the last general elections.

The Supreme Court had, in the judgement, held among others, that the APC did not hold valid primaries preparatory to the 2019 general elections, voided its (the party’s) victory in the elections and made a consequential order, directing the party with the second highest scores in the election to claim the victory.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, benefited from the effect of the consequential order.

An application argued on Tuesday by counsel to Yari’s faction, Robert Clarke, SAN, prayed the court to review the consequential order on the grounds that it was wrongly made.

He argued that the Supreme Court, acted without jurisdiction in a pre-election matter when it voided all the lawful votes that accrued to a political party.

Clarke argued that the order the Supreme Court ought to have made was to direct the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh primaries and elections in Zamfara State, instead of voiding the party’s victory.

He argued that, by the consequential order, the Supreme Court made it possible for the PDP, which was not a party in the Zamfara APC’s intra-party dispute, to benefit from the outcome.

“That the teeming electorate in Zamfara State have been unfairly and unjustifiably denied or deprived of their natural or ordinary outcome of the votes cast by them,” Clarke argued, insisting that the judgement, if not vacated, would set a bad judicial precedent for the country.

In a counter-argument, lawyer to Senator Kabir Marafa’s faction of the APC, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the application with punitive cost arguing that it lacked merit and constitutes an abuse of the process of the court.

He said with the recent two decisions of the Supreme Court in the governorship disputes in Bayelsa and Imo States, the applicant ought to have quietly withdrawn the application.

He said the apex court struck out the application on July 22, 2019, for being in contravention of Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules.

Besides, Ozekhome contended that in view of Section 285(12) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the matter, being a pre-election issue that ought to be decided within 60 days from the day the initial notice of appeal was filed, had become status barred. He said the instant application which was filed about 10 months after the Supreme Court gave its final judgement on the Zamfara matter, amounted to gross abuse of the judicial process.

INEC said it would abide by the decision of the apex court on the matter.

After listening to all the parties, a five-man panel of justices headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Tanko Muhammad, reserved ruling on the application.

The CJN said the ruling date would be communicated to the parties, though he cautioned counsels to the applicants, Chief Clarke, for saying that the apex court placed itself in “a dilemma” with its decision in Zamfara. He said all legal authorities and submissions of the parties would be considered and each member of the panel would be allowed to take his decision.

 

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