Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney-General of the Federation has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow the All Progressives Congress (APC) Zamfara, field candidates for the general elections.
In a letter to INEC dated Feb. 13, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Malami, who also doubles as Minister of Justice, said that INEC could not foreclose the right of a political party to participate in elections without recourse to the Electoral Act.
He wrote: “My office received a petition from the firm of M. A. Mahmud, (SAN) & CO, in respect of the need to urgently consider Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act and extend the time for the APC Zamfara to field a gubernatorial candidate in the light of a Zamfara High Court judgment in suit No.ZMS/GS/52/2018. The letter was requesting that the subsisting judgment in the suit be upheld and respected by INEC, as the Court of Appeal has upheld the appeal with No. CA/S/23/2019; thus effectively annulling the grounds upon which the purported cancellation of the APC Primaries in Zamfara by INEC was based.’’
Malami told INEC to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal by admitting the results of the APC Zamfara primaries. He also referred to the provisions of Section 38 of the Electoral Act, which empowers the commission to postpone the election for the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly elections.
He wrote: “Granting them this concession is not necessarily a favor but a right that inures to all contestants under similar circumstances.”
Malami maintained that by the doctrine and principle of judicial precedence, the appeal superseded the Federal High Court’s position which foreclosed APC Zamfara from fielding candidates in the Feb. and March general elections.
Reacting to the news of the AGF’s letter, INEC on Thursday said it had not received a letter from the AGF. The commission specifically stated that the purported letter could be a fake document meant to mislead the general population and especially voters in the upcoming elections.
Oluwole Osaze-Uzezi, the Director of Voter Education and Publicity at INEC, told The PUNCH that the commission had yet to receive the letter.
According to the publication, he said, “I said we have not received the letter, but when we get to the bridge, we will cross it. But for now, we have not received any such letter in INEC. It is on social media. How am I sure that it is not one of those social media gimmicks? I can’t comment on something I have not seen; I have made enquiries from the INEC chairman and he said there is nothing like such letter and he has not received any such letter.”
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal in Sokoto yesterday validated the position of the INEC that the APC in Zamfara State does not have candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state House of Assembly elections coming up on February 16 and March 2.
The Court, presided over by Justice Jumai Sankey, with other members of the panel, Justices Ndukwe Anyanwu and Vincent Abiru, dismissed the appeal and the motion filed by Governor Abdulaziz Yari and Alhaji Muktar Idris praying the court to be allowed to contest the elections.
It upheld the argument of Chief Ozekhome and Mr. Isiaka Dikko (SAN) that the notice of discontinuance earlier filed on February 11 by Hon. Sani Jaji under Order 11 Rules 1 and 5 of the Court of Appeal Rules had completely extinguished the appeal upon which Idris’ counsel, Mr. Mahmud Magaji (SAN), had predicated his motion filed on February 8.