…..asks INEC to ignore AGF’s ‘misconcieved’ letter
……says APC lied, dispute over primary election still at A-Court
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA- Constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Thursday, berated the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, for asking the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to postpone elections in Zamfara State to allow the All Progressives Congress, APC, to resolve its internal crisis.
Ozekhome, maintained that under section 174 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the AGF, being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, should not be seen as a champion of the interest of any political party.
He said it was wrong for Malami to use his office, to ask INEC to postpone an election that will involve over 70 other political parties, on the basis of “suppressed and misconceived facts” that were contained in a petition by a faction of the APC In Zamfara.
Ozekhome, who addressed a world press conference at his law chambers in Abuja, said he has already written a counter letter to the INEC, and adduced reasons why it should ignore Malami’s request and proceed with all the scheduled elections in the state.
He said the counter letter was also copied to the AGF.
Malami had in a letter dated February 13, asked INEC to either allow APC to field candidates in Zamfara State, or shift the National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly elections in the state to a later date.
He urged the electoral body to comply with a judgment of the Court of Appeal, which allegedly okayed the outcome of primary elections the APC conducted in Zamfara state.
The AGF argued that in view of the appellate court’s decision, the INEC, has the powers under section 38 of the Electoral Act, to postpone the elections to allow the APC a little time to catch up with other political parties.
Ozekhome who was counsel to Senator Kabiru Marafa and 181 aggrieved members of the APC that were cited as respondents in the appeal, alleged that the AGF’s letter was anchored on lies.
He said that contrary to the AGF’s claim, the Court of Appeal in Zamfara State had in the ruling that was delivered by a three-man panel led by Justice Jumai Hannatu, on Wednesday, dismissed the appeal before it after it was withdrawn.
In his counter letter to INEC, Ozekhome, said: “The sole issue that came up for determination was whether Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji (the Appellant) who had filed a notice of discontinuance of his appeal on the 11th of February, 2019, under Order 11 Rules I and 5, could legally withdraw and discontinue the appeal and if so, whether Sanusi Liman Alhaji, Mukhtar Shehu Idris, Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar and 35 others, could still sustain their motion filed on 8th February, 2019, which had been solely predicated on the existence of Appeal No: CA/3/23/2019”.
He said the motion the Governor Yari-led faction of the party filed through their lawyer, Mr. Magaji, SAN, prayed the appellate court to in the interim, order INEC to give effect to the January 25 judgment of a Zamfara State High Court, which recognised them as authentic candidates of the APC in the 2019 genera elections.
According to Ozekhome, the appellate court did not only dismiss the suit after it upheld the right of the appellant to withdraw it, “more significantly, the court held that the very motion filed by Governor Yari and the others could not be argued as it had been overtaken by events by the discontinuance and dismissal of the appeal on which it was hinged”.