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Malami Directs INEC To Postpone Elections In Zamfara

Ozekhome faults directive

Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos and Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto

The
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr.
Abubakar Malami (SAN), has directed the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) to postpone elections in Zamfara State to enable the
All Progressives Congress (APC) field candidates for the 2019 elections

This
is coming as Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has described the directive as
an act of desperation, and advised INEC to reject it.

He said
his decision was predicated on the judgment of the state High Court in
suit No ZMS/GS/52/2018 between Sanusi Liman Dan-Alhaji and 37 others Vs
APC and 144 others; and Appeal No: CA/S/23/2019.

In a three-page
letter dated February 13, 2019 and addressed to INEC Chairman, Prof.
Mahmood Yakubu, Malami told the commission that the directive was sequel
to Section 38 and 39 of the Electoral Amendment Act 2010.

He
stated that since the Court of Appeal has annulled the ground upon which
the commission had based the cancellation of the APC primaries in the
state, the party would need a little time to catch up with its
contemporaries in the election.

He submitted that granting
the party concession is not a favour but a right that inures to all
contestants under similar circumstances.

The letter read: “My
office received a petition from the firm of M.A. Mahmud, (SAN) & CO
in respect of the above subject matter, (copy attached for ease of
reference) requesting that the subsisting judgment in Suit No.
ZMS/GS/52/2018 – Sanusi Liman Dan-Alhaji & 37 ORS V. APC & 144
ORS be upheld and respected by INEC, as the Court of Appeal has upheld
the Appeal No. CA/S/23/2019, thus effectively annulling the grounds upon
which the purported cancellation of the APC primaries in Zamfara State
by INEC was based.

“You may wish to recall that the Zamfara State
High Court upheld the Zamfara APC primaries in the suit mentioned in
the first paragraph above, held on October 3 and 7, 2018 for the
governorship and the national and state legislative houses.

“You
may further wish to recall that in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2018- APC V.
INEC & 5 ORS, the Federal High Court held that the nullification of
the said Zamfara APC primaries by INEC was lawful. However, this
decision has been upturned in Appeal No CA/S/23/2019. Copy is also
attached for ease of reference.

“In the circumstance and in
consideration of the provisions of Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral
Act, 2010, the law allows INCE the latitude and discretion to extend the
time within which a political party may duly field a candidate for an
election where unforeseen circumstances constrained such a party from
doing so within the stipulated time frame.

“In this particular
instance, the constraining circumstances that led to the delay in
fielding candidate were caused by INEC’s refusal to comply with the
Zamfara State High Court Judgment in the aforementioned suit to uphold
the primaries as held. Moreover, INEC cannot foreclose the right of a
political party to participate in elections without recourse to the Act.
By the doctrine and principle of judicial precedence, the Appeal
supersedes the Federal High Court’s Position in Suit No.
FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2018 –APC V. INEC & 5 ORS.

“In view of the
fact, now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the Primaries as valid,
the APC in Zamfara State will need a little time to catch up with its
contemporaries in the election. Granting them this concession is not
necessarily a favour but a right that inures to all contestants under
similar circumstances.

“Consequent on the above, INEC is invited
to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal by admitting the
results of the APC Zamfara State primaries and to also comply with the
provisions of S.38 of the Electoral Act, which empowers INEC to postpone
the election for the governorship, National Assembly and House of
Assembly Elections.

Reacting to Malami’s directive, counsel to
the appellant, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), described it as an act of
desperation, advising INEC to reject it.

He berated the APC for taking Nigerians for a ride.

“This
letter is wrong. It shows that they are desperate. INEC should reject
it. They see Nigeria as an APC entity. They don’t believe that Nigeria
is not for APC alone but to all Nigerians. It is a wrong request that
should be ignored,” he said

However, THISDAY’s investigation
revealed that the Court of Appeal in Sokoto yesterday validated the
position of the INEC that the APC in Zamfara State does not have
candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state House of
Assembly elections coming up on February 16 and March 2.

The
court, presided over by Justice Jumai Sankey, with other members of the
panel, Justices Ndukwe Anyanwu and Vincent Abiru, dismissed the appeal
and the motion filed by Governor Abdulaziz Yari and Alhaji Muktar Idris
praying the court to be allowed to contest the elections.

It
upheld the argument of Chief Ozekhome and Mr. Isiaka Dikko (SAN) that
the notice of discontinuance earlier filed on February 11 by Hon. Sani
Jaji under Order 11 Rules 1 and 5 of the Court of Appeal Rules had
completely extinguished the appeal upon which Idris’ counsel, Mr. Mahmud
Magaji (SAN), had predicated his motion filed on February 8.

Magaji
had prayed the court to grant him interlocutory orders allowing Idris
to contest the governorship, and Yari to contest as a senatorial
candidate before the main appeal is heard.

He argued that the motion was brought to the court on February 8 to hear the appeal on February 19, 2019 based on its merit.

He
further affirmed that the appellant later accused the former panel of
the court of bias, which led to the reconstitution of a new panel by the
president of the court.

The court in dismissing Jaji’s withdrawn
appeal, also made consequential orders dismissing the motion of Yari
and Idris, among other applicants, who had asked to be allowed to
contest the elections pending the hearing of the main appeal.

The
court agreed fully with Ozekhome, who cited several Supreme Court
decisions, and argued that once the appeal was discontinued, Yari and
Muktar, who had not cross appealed or asked for variation under Order 9
of the Court of Appeal Rules cannot compel Jaji to go on with his
appeal.

Ozekhome specifically argued that the case was dead since the appellant declined to continue with the case.

He
based his argument on Order 9 Rule 5 of the court, praying the court to
strike out the appeal since there was no cross appeal.

“The case is like a corpse in the mortuary ready to be disposed,” Ozekhome said.

The
learned silk also submitted that they could not predicate their prayers
to be allowed to contest on a non-existent appeal, which had died.

After
listening to all the argument, the court dismissed the appeal and the
motion filed by Yari and Idris praying that they be allowed to contest
the elections.

Reacting to the verdict, Jaji said he was happy
because some people would like to use the appeal to enforce the judgment
of the state High Court, which directed INEC to recognise the
candidates of the Yari faction in the state.

On his part, Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, who is among the G8 and one of the respondents praised the decision of the court.

He
extolled Ozekhome for his logical arguments, saying if there is
anything more than senior advocate, he should have been given.

“You know Yari cannot win election in Zamfara State, he would like to ride on federal might to come through the back door.

“In
Zamfara today, killings are ongoing on unabated, our people are being
kidnapped, raped as if we don’t have government, it is not about the
party but about my people,” Marafa said.

Source:- Thisdaylive

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