There are possibilities of postponing elections in Zamfara State going by the latest move by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Mr Abubakar Malami.
It has just been revealed that Malami sent a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission requesting the electoral umpire to postpone the National Assembly elections and the governorship and state House of Assembly polls in Zamafara State to enable the All Progressives Congress to field candidates in the exercise in the state.
This is sequel to the latest judgement that APC in Zamfara could field candidates in the forthcoming elections.
A copy of the three-page letter bearing Malami’s signature and dated February 13, 2019, with reference number MJ/DSD/03, emerged online early Thursday.
The letter it’s gathered is without the acknowledgement stamp of the office of INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to whom it was addressed.
Malami, in the letter, which he said was informed by a petition he received from the law firm of M.A Mahmud & Co., anchored his request for the postponement of the elections in Zamfara State on a judgment of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal.
The minister said in the letter that the Court of Appeal’s judgment delivered on Wednesday affirmed an earlier verdict of the Zamfara State High Court which had held that the party conducted valid primaries for the various elective positions in the state.
Malami said granting the concession of postponing the polls in Zamfara State in the light of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, was not a matter of doing APC a favour but a right the party was entitled to.
Part of the letter read:
“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 judgement of the Court of Appeal by admitting the results of the APC Zamfara State Primaries and to also comply with the provisions of Section38 of the Electoral Act which empowers INEC to postpone the election for the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly Elections.”
However, the minister’s claim was debunked by Chief Mike Ozehome (SAN), a lawyer acting for Senator Kabir Marafa and others involved in the appeal.
It’s expected that the other faction will address press conference later today.
“There is absolutely no legal basis whatsoever for this letter which is clearly meant to circumvent the judicial process already activated by all parties concerned.
“I act for Senator Kabiru Marafa, Hon Dauda Lawal and others.”
INEC had insisted that it would not accommodate APC’s candidates in the forthcoming polls due to the party’s alleged failure to conduct valid primaries in the state, but a Zamfara State High Court, however, ruled in its judgment that the party held valid primaries, contrary to a pronouncement of the Federal High Court in Abuja, that the party did not conduct any valid primaries, which was appealed and went in the favour of APC that it did held a valid primaries.
Malami, however, stated in his letter to INEC that the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal in appeal marked CA/S/23/2019 affirmed the Zamfara State High Court’s judgment and nullified the Federal High Court’s.
He, therefore, asked INEC to invoke the provisions of section 38 and 39 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2010 to postpone the elections in order to give room to APC to field candidates and catch up with its contemporaries in the polls.
He said, “You may further wish to recall that In Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2018 – ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (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 INEC 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.”
Quoting the said provisions of the Electoral Act, Malami said the delay in accommodating APC in the elections was no fault of the party but caused by INEC.
He stated, “In this particular instance, the constraining circumstances that led to the delay in fielding a 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 – ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) V. INEC & 5 ORS.”
INEC will have to respond to the request of Malami before the end of today for parties involved to know their fate.
Recalled that in our earlier report, we told you that INEC was making efforts to ensure that some polling units in troubled areas in the state would be relocated to peaceful areas.
The battle continues.