Nigeria: APC Vows Third Return to Supreme Court in Zamfara

Nigeria's ruling party, APC, has vowed to return to the Supreme Court to contest the disqualification of the party from contesting in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections.

The APC said this through its lawyer, Robert Clerk, after the Supreme Court refused the party's request regarding its participation in the elections for the second time on Monday.

Speaking after the court ruling on Monday, Mr Clerk, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the decision "cannot mean the end of the road for his party, as their application was never heard in its merits."

"Our attention has been drawn to the fact that there were five judgements and we only produced one of the five. It therefore does not fall within the rules of the court to listen to us. So the matter was never taken on its merits. What the court said is that we have not tidied ourselves up properly.

"We have taken note of that. We will go back to the drawing board again since the matter was only struck out; it was never taken on its merits, we will come back," Mr Clerk said.

He added that his clients would consider the recommendations of the court and return after getting the five copies of the judgement delivered on May 24.

According to Mr Clerk, the APC approached the apex court a second time to contest the consequential orders made during the judgement in May, "because his clients believed that the apex court lacked jurisdiction to make the said consequential orders at the time".

The court had in a decision earlier taken in May ruled against the APC's application principally because it agreed with the decision of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which had decided that the APC did not conduct a valid primaries ahead of the elections.

The Disqualification

Owing to the party's internal wrangling, the APC in Zamfara State formed two parallel factions ahead of the deadline for the conduct of primaries for the 2019 elections.

While a faction of the state's APC was led by ex-governor, Abdulazeez Yeri, the other faction was led by a senator, Kabiru Marafa.

Gov Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State State House Correspondents after meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Monday (3/12/2018) 06258/3/12/2018/Sumaila Ibrahim/ICE/NAN

While Mr Yari's faction claimed the party had chosen its candidate in a "validly conducted congress," the Marafa-led faction maintained that no primaries were conducted.

The failure of the factions to agree resulted in the Zamfara State APC's inability to meet INEC's deadline of October 7, 2018, for parties to conduct a valid primaries and submit representatives to the commission.

The national leadership of the party led by Adams Oshiomhole admitted that no primaries held but claimed consensus candidates were adopted within the stipulated time.

Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would not allow the APC field candidates in Zamfara State because the party did not hold primaries within the stipulated time.

Legal battle

In an obvious bid by the different factions to enhance their positions, two conflicting judgments emerged in January from the High Court in Zamfara and its sister court in Abuja.

While the court sitting in Zamfara ruled that the APC actually conducted valid primaries, the one in Abuja decided otherwise.

During the confusion, APC fielded a candidate, Muktar Idris in the governorship elections who polled 534,541 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Bello Matawalle who polled 189,452 votes, according to the results declared by INEC.

In yet another decision against the APC's primaries, the Court of Appeal in Sokoto State nullified the decision of the Zamfara State High Court which had accepted the "primaries" conducted by the APC.

The appellate court said the party failed to contradict the reasons for which INEC concluded that a primary election was not conducted in the state.

Following that decision, the APC again approached the Supreme Court which ruled in May, that the party indeed failed to meet laid down regulations for the conduct of a valid primaries.

The apex court in May, ruled against the party in its application and ordered a fine of N10 million against the APC.

The court also ruled that the candidates who scored the next highest votes apart from the APC should eventually be declared winner of the elections.

"Candidate other than the first appellant with the highest vote stand elected. A cost of N10 million is awarded against the appellant," the court ruled.

The APC thus appealed to the Supreme Court to challenge its ruling, an appeal struck out on Monday.

Apparently dissatisfied with this decision, the APC is bent on returning to the Supreme Court a third time.

A five member panel had presided on the day of the judgement. The Supreme Court can reconvene with seven members to review its decision.

But that happens in rare cases.

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