The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN, has directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to postpone elections in Zamfara State to enable the All Progressives Congress, APC, field candidates for the 2019 elections.
He said his decision was predicated on the judgment of the state High Court in suit No ZMS/GS/52/2018 between Sanusi Liman Dan-Alhaji and 37 others Vs APC and 144 others; and Appeal No: CA/S/23/2019. He also anchored his request for the postponement of the elections in Zamfara State on a judgment of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal.
A copy of the three-page letter bearing Malami’s signature and dated February 13, 2019 with reference number MJ/DSD/03, emerged online Thursday. The letter is without the acknowledgement stamp of the office of INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to whom it was addressed.
The minister’s call was however debunked by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, a lawyer acting for Senator Kabir Marafa and others involved in the appeal, who described the directive as an act of desperation, and advised INEC to reject it.
Newsworth recalls that INEC had insisted that it would not accommodate APC’s candidates in the forthcoming polls due to the party’s alleged failure to conduct valid primaries in the state.
The Zamfara State High Court, however, ruled in its judgment that the party held valid primaries, contrary to a pronouncement of the Federal High Court in Abuja, that the party did not conduct any valid primaries.
In the face of the two conflicting judgments from the courts of coordinate jurisdiction, INEC insisted that it would stick to its original position that the APC failed to conduct valid primaries in the state and therefore would not be allowed to field candidates for the polls.
Malami, a founding member of the APC, said in the letter that the Court of Appeal’s judgment delivered on Wednesday affirmed an earlier verdict of the Zamfara State High Court which had held that the party conducted valid primaries for the various elective positions in the state.
He said granting the concession of postponing the polls in Zamfara State in the light of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, was not a matter of doing APC a favour but a right the party was entitled to.
According to the AGF’s letter, “In view of the fact, now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the primaries as valid, the APC in Zamfara State will need a little time to catch up with its contemporaries in the election.
“Granting them this concession is not necessarily a favour but a right that inures to all contestants under similar circumstances.
“Consequent on the above, INEC is invited to comply with the judgement of the Court of Appeal by admitting the results of the APC Zamfara State Primaries and to also comply with the provisions of Section 38 of the Electoral Act which empowers INEC to postpone the election for the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly Elections.”
Calling for a press conference to address the letter by the AGF’s letter later on Thursday, Ozekhome berated the APC for taking Nigerians for a ride.
He said, “There is absolutely no legal basis whatsoever for this letter which is clearly meant to circumvent the judicial process already activated by all parties concerned.
“I act for Senator Kabiru Marafa, Hon Dauda Lawal and others.”
“This letter is wrong. It shows that they are desperate. INEC should reject it. They see Nigeria as an APC entity. They don’t believe that Nigeria is not for APC alone but to all Nigerians. It is a wrong request that should be ignored,” the senior advocate added.