….vows to challenge declaration of PDP’s candidate as winner
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has withdrawn the case it filed against the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate, Alhaji Mukhtar Idris, before the Zamfara State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
APGA and its gubernatorial candidate in the state, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, told the tribunal which conducted its proceedings in Abuja, that their decision to withdraw the matter was based on the Supreme Court judgement that on May 24, invalidated the declaration of Idris of the APC as winner of the Zamfara governorship poll.
In the notice of discontinuance they filed through their lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Mbaeri, the petitioners, said they were no longer interested in the petition, since the Respondents have been sacked by the apex court.
Following the application, the tribunal accordingly struck out the matter.
It will be recalled that the Supreme Court had in its judgement, held that the APC did not field any valid candidate in all the elections that held in Zamfara State.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgment that was delivered by a five-man panel of Justices led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, held that the ruling party did not conduct valid primary elections to nominate candidates for any elective position in the state.
It maintained that the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal was right when it held that the APC did not have any eligible candidate in the 2019 general election in Zamfara State.
Consequently, it sacked both the then APC governor-elect, Idris, as well as all other candidates that won elections on the platform of the party and ordered that those that garnered the second highest number of valid votes in all the elections should be sworn-in.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had since complied with the judgement by handing a Certificate of Return to the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bello Mettawalle.
However, shortly after they withdrew their case, APGA and its candidate, said they would file a fresh petition to challenge the swearing-in of Governor Mettawalle of the PDP as the winner of the March 9 governorship election.
Counsel to the petitioners told newsmen that his clients would among other things, query Mettawalle’s educational qualification to occupy the governorship seat.
He contended that the statutory 21 days for the filling of election petition was still extant.
APGA had in the petition it withdrew, prayed the tribunal to nullify the Governorship election that held on March 9 and order for a fresh election without the participation of the APC and its candidate.
The petitioners argued that by virtue of Section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, “a person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a state if inter alia: he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party to contest the said election”.
According to them, “Pursuant to section 87(1) of The Electoral Act 2010 as amended, a political party seeking to sponsor or nominate candidates for elections under this section shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions. In other words, by the combined provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Electoral Act 2010 as amended, Sponsorship of candidates for elective positions is only through the holding of primaries”.
Citing Section 140(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, the petitioners argued that “where an election tribunal or court nullifies an election on the ground that the person who obtained the highest votes at the election was not qualified to contest the contest the election or marred by substantial irregularities or noncompliance with the provisions of this act, the election tribunal or court shall not declare the person with the second highest number of votes or any other person as elected, but shall order a fresh election.