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AGF, Oshiomhole write INEC, want Zamfara APC candidates recognised

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Omeiza Ajayi & Henry Ojelu

ABUJA—Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, have written to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, asking it to accept candidates of the APC for various offices in Zamfara State.

Abubakar Malami (SAN) . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan

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The letters by both Malami and Oshiomhole, dated February 13, 2019, were personally signed by them.

In his letter, Mr Malami also requested for extension of time to allow Zamfara chapter of the party to “catch up.”

The justice minister said he based his recommendation on Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act.

But the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in a swift reaction yesterday, said it has not received any letter, which also contained the AGF’s demand for a postponement of the Zamfara State National Assembly, governorship and State House of Assembly elections, neither had the commission received any letter from Oshiomhole.

The AGF said that by the provisions of the sections, INEC was in a position to grant an extension of time for the Zamfara State chapter of the party due to unforeseen delays.

He also called the attention of INEC to Wednesday’s decision of the Court of Appeal in Sokoto which he claimed upheld the validity of the Zamfara State candidates.

“Consequently on the above, INEC is invited to comply with judgment of the Court of Appeal by admitting the results of the APC Zamfara state primaries and to also comply with the provisions S.38 of the Electoral Act which empowers INEC to postpone the election of the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly elections,” Mr Malami wrote.

The letter read further:  “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 & 3Z ORS V. ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS & 144 ORS be upheld and respected by INEC, as the Court of Appeal has upheld the Appeal in Appeal No. CA/S/23/2019, (scanned copy attached for ease of reference) 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 the 3rd and 7th October, 2018, for the Governorship and the National and State Legislative Houses. Copy attached for ease of reference.

“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.

“Section 38 states:  Where at the close of nomination, there is no candidate validly nominated, the Commission shall extend time for the nomination and fix a new date for the election.

“Section 39 states: Subject to any other provisions of this Act, if after the latest time for the delivery of nomination papers, and the withdrawal of candidates for an election under this Act, more than one person remains validly nominated, a poll shall be taken.

“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.

“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 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 the AGF’s letter yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said it has not received a letter purportedly written by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, demanding a postponement of the Zamfara State National Assembly, governorship and State House of Assembly elections.

This was as the ruling All Progressives Congress APC has asked INEC to obey the court judgement and enlist its candidates for Saturday’s polls.

The commission said the purported letter said to have been written to it by Malami could be a social media creation.

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