Zamfara Gov Poll:Tribunal relocates sitting to Abuja, okays APGA’s petition

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The Zamfara State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has relocated its proceedings to Abuja, citing security concerns in the state.

Zamfara The tribunal, which held its inaugural sitting on Thursday, okayed a petition that was lodged before it by the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in the state, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi.

The three-man panel tribunal headed by Justice Binta Amina granted an ex-parte application the APGA candidate filed to be allowed to serve copies of his petition on the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate Mukhta Idris, through substituted means.

The tribunal gave the petitioner the nod to paste all the processes on the wall of the APC National Headquarters in Abuja. Shinkafi and APGA, had through their lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Mbaeri, applied to be allowed to effect service of the processes on any adult staff at the APC National Secretariat situated at Plot 40 Blantyre Street Wuse 2, or by pasting the petition and all other processes at the entrance gate or any other conspicuous place at the APC Secretariat.

Specifically the petitioners are praying the court to nullify the Governorship election that was conducted in Zamfara state on March 9 and order for a fresh election without the participation of the APC and its candidate.

The petitioners argued that by virtue of Section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, “a person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a state if inter alia: he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party to contest the said election”.

According to them, “Pursuant to section 87(1) of The Electoral Act 2010 as amended, a political party seeking to sponsor or nominate candidates for elections under this section shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions. In other words, by the combined provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Electoral Act 2010 as amended, Sponsorship of candidates for elective positions is only through the holding of primaries”.

Citing Section 140(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, Shinkafi, argued that “where an election tribunal or court nullifies an election on the ground that the person who obtained the highest votes at the election was not qualified to contest the contest the election or marred by substantial irregularities or noncompliance with the provisions of this act, the election tribunal or court shall not declare the person with the second highest number of votes or any other person as elected, but shall order a fresh election.

He contended that the APC candidate who was cited in the suit as the 1st Respondent was as at the time of the Zamfara State Governorship election, not qualified to contest the election on the ground that he was not a sponsored candidate of a political party and was therefore not qualified for election to the office of the Governor of a State.

The petitioners further averred that by the combined provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), sponsorship of Governorship candidate is only through the holding of primary elections otherwise known as Special Congress in State Capital with delegates voting for aspirants of their choice. APGA and its candidate maintained that the 2nd respondent (APC), did not hold any primary election in Zamfara State or Special congress wherein the 1st Respondent was nominated/sponsored as the Governorship Candidate of the 2nd Respondent for the Zamfara State Governorship Election that took place on March 9.

The petitioners further contended that the 3rd Respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, being the watch-dog of political parties, was fully aware that the APC did not sponsor candidates across all elective positions in Zamfara State.

They told the tribunal that INEC had by a letter dated October 9, 2018, titled “Failure to conduct party primaries in Zamfara State within the stipulated time”, wrote to the APC, notifying it of the consequences of the party’s failure to hold primaries and sponsor candidates in Zamfara State.

“INEC made it clear that APC will not be fielding candidates for the Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections”.

The petitioners averred that the purported participation of the APC candidate in the March 9 governorship poll, was rendered a nullity by the judgment of the Court of Appeal Sokoto Division in appeal number CA/S/32/2019 between Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa & others v Sanusi Lukman Dan Alhaji & others, which was delivered on March 25.

They told the tribunal that the appellate court unanimously set aside the judgment of the Zamfara State High Court in suit number Number ZMS/GS/52/2018, which allowed APC to participate in the governorship poll.

Shinkafi and APGA are therefore praying the tribunal for a declaration that the 1st Respondent, at the time of the Zamfara State governorship election conducted by INEC on March 9, was not qualified to the contest the said election having not been sponsored by the APC (2nd respondent) as stipulated in Section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). 2019: 41 candidates jostle to become Lagos governor, 589 eye Lagos Assembly They are also asking for an order setting aside the purported return of the 1st and 2nd respondents as winners of the Zamfara State Governorship Election.

As well as an order directing INEC to conduct fresh governorship election in Zamfara State within 90 days, without the participation of the 1st and 2nd respondents, the APC having failed to sponsor a governorship candidate within the time stipulated by law.