Senate President, Ahmad Lawan
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA–The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, fixed February 6 to determine the merit of an appeal the All Progressives Congress, APC, filed to challenge the judgement that disqualified the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, from contesting the forthcoming election as its candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District.
A five-man panel of Justices of the apex court led by Justice Chima Nweze adjourned the appeal for judgement, after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument.
Lawan had on November 28, 2022, lost his re-election bid, following the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which affirmed Bashir Sheriff Machina as the authentic candidate of the APC for the senatorial election.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel led by President of the Court Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensen, dismissed the appeal APC filed in favour of Lawan, as lacking in merit.
APC had challenged the verdict of a Federal High Court in Damaturu which on September 28, 2022, recognized Machina as its candidate for the senatorial district.
It will be recalled that while Lawan picked the presidential form of the APC and participated in the primary election that was won by Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, on the other hand, Machina, vied and won his bid to takeover as candidate of the party for the senatorial contest.
Following his defeat at the presidential primary, Lawan, urged Machina to relinquish the senatorial ticket to him, a request the later blatantly refused.
However, in the face of the controversy, the APC, submitted Lawan’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as its senatorial candidate for Yobe North.
Miffed by the development, Machina headed to court to seek redress.
He specifically asked the court to declare him as the validly elected senatorial candidate of the APC for the senatorial election, a prayer that was accordingly granted.
Though Lawan earlier declared that he had accepted his situation in good faith, however, the APC, took the matter before the appellate court.
The party insisted that Lawan was the candidate it chose to sponsor at the election.
It prayed the appellate court to set aside the high court judgement which was delivered in favour of Machina by Justice Fadimatu Aminu.
The high court had nullified a parallel primary election the APC held to ensure Lawan’s return to the Senate.
The court held that the said primary poll, which the party conducted on June 9, was invalid.
It, therefore, ordered the APC to immediately forward Machina’s name to INEC as its candidate for the election.
While affirming the lower court’s verdict, the appellate court noted that whereas APC, in the appeal, made a case for Lawan, it however failed to join him as a co-appellant in the matter, but rather cited him as the 2nd Respondent.
It held that the action of the party indicated that it worked at cross purpose with Lawan, while trying to achieve a goal.
The appellate court held that evidence before it established that the primary election that produced Machina, was conducted in strict compliance with the Electoral Act, the 1999 Constitution and electoral guidelines of the APC.
It further held that the said primary election was valid since it was duly monitored by INEC as required by law.
Aside from dismissing the appeal, the appellate court, awarded N1million cost against the APC, in favour of Machina.
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