2019 Elections: Appeal court nullifies Zamfara APC primaries

The court of appeal sitting in Sokoto on Monday set aside the judgment delivered by the Zamfara high court, allowing the All Progressives Congress (APC) to field candidates in the 2019 election.

The appeal was filed by Kabiru Marafa, chairman of the senate committee on petroleum (downstream) and 129 others through Mike Ozheokome, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Respondents are Kabiru Liman-Danalhaji and 139 others represented by Mahmud Magaji, SAN, as lead counsel.

Delivering the lead judgment, Tijjani Abubakar which was adopted by two other judges, Jamilu Tukur and Tom Yakubu, held that the lower court failed in its duty to properly evaluate the evidence before it.

Yakubu said judges have the legal power to produce judgment and reach decisions with reason, noting that in the instance case it was not done.

“I am convinced that the lower Court has failed to evaluate the evidence before reaching the decision. The Appeal Court have power in law to access pieces of evidence on appeal, which we have done,” he held.

”Based on available facts the respondents did not contradict the INEC evidence on conducting the said primary election.”

The presiding judge, said “documented evidence has upper consideration than oral ones”.

Yakubu held that the plaintiffs being card-carrying party members and aspirants in the said primary election have legal capacity to institute the suit.

He added that federal, states and FCT high courts have jurisdiction to entertain such matter.

The judges agreed that the judgment should serve as “bitter lesson” for political parties as they ought to follow legitimate guidelines and rules.

“Domestic affairs of political party activities must act within the confines of the law in dealing with party members and elections” the judges agreed.

A Zamfara high court had recognised the primary election that produced governorship, state and national assembly candidates held by the APC faction loyal to Abdulaziz Yari, the governor, and ordered INEC to accept the party candidates for the elections.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the appellants approached the appeal court challenging the decision on the ground that the state high court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit among others.

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