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Zamfara APC crisis: Governor-elect, others head for Supreme Court, write INEC

[FILE PHOTO] INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State, its governor-elect, and other winners of the 2019 general elections on the platform of the party, have resolved to approach the Supreme Court for a final resolution of the crisis that engulfed the party in the state.

The party has also written to the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to notify him about the judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered on March 25, 2019.

In a letter dated March 26, 2019, written on behalf of the governor-elect and 38 others by their counsel, Magaji Abubakar Mahmmud (SAN), the APC members said the Appeal Court judgment only allowed the appellant’s appeal and set aside the judgment of the trial Court, but did not “make any positive consequential order.”

A factional leader of the party in the state, Senator Kabir Marafa, had at the Court of Appeal challenged the judgment of a Zamfara State High Court, which gave the APC the go-ahead to field candidates during the 2019 polls.

However, after the judgment of the appellate Court, there were reports that the Court nullified the APC primaries, which produced the candidates for the just-concluded elections in the State.

But in his letter to the Chairman of the INEC, the counsel to the APC said, the Court of Appeal did not make such an order in its judgment.

The lawyer said: “Our attention has also been drawn by our client to a letter written by Counsel to the Appellants (Marafa and 140 Ors) Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN) dated March 25, 2019 wherein he stated that, “there is absolutely no legal basis for any of the APC candidates that allegedly emerged victorious from the said sham elections to be issued with any certificate of return.

“Assuming without conceding that the judgment of the Court of Appeal had a positive order, the Court of Appeal is not the final court of law in respect of the subject matter.”

While noting that his client reserved the right of appeal on the said subject matter to the Supreme Court, Mahmud noted that his clients “have taken positive steps towards exercising their constitutional right of appeal to the Supreme Court.”

The counsel, however, faulted INEC’s decision to withhold the APC candidates’ certificates of return on the ground of a letter written to the Commission by counsel to the appellants.

He said: It is a bad practice for Counsel to resort to letter writing, thus misleading a responsible organization like the INEC by twisting facts.”

He further stated: “We wish to state that issues of law of this nature are regulated by an order of court or court of law and not by opinion of counsel via a mere letter from chambers. May we further emphasise that in the entire judgment of the Court of Appeal, there was neither a positive order made against our clients nor in favour of the appellants.

“Thus, it will be wrong of the commission to rely on the mere speculative letter of the appellants’ counsel at this stage when elections have already been concluded and winners have emerged. The only institution that is empowered to make a positive order in respect of this subject matter is the court of law, and no court of law has made or given an order to that effect.”

Quoting section 235 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the lawyer stressed that an aggrieved party has right of appeal to the Supreme Court and no court or any person can take away such right by mere letter.

“We urge you and the entire Commission to discountenance the letter written by Ozekhome (SAN),” he said, arguing that the provisions of section 285 (13) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) supported the judgment.

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