Adeniyi Olugbemi, Sokoto
When Yari boasted of winning Zamfara elections in 24 hours, he did not take into cognisance the fact that the courts might have a final say on whether his faction of APC was qualified to part-take in the elections in the first instance.
The All Progressives Congress Zamfara State, the state Governor-elect, Muktar Shehu, and other winners of the 2019 polls on the platform of the APC in the state have written to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
In a letter to the INEC Chairman dated March 26, 2019 written on behalf of the governor-elect and 38 others by their counsel, Magaji Mahmmud (SAN), the APC members said the Court of Appeal in Sokoto in its March 25 judgment did not “make any positive consequential order.”
The lawyer said his clients “have taken positive steps towards exercising their constitutional right of appeal to the Supreme Court.”
A senator from the state, Kabir Marafa, had at the Court of Appeal challenged the judgment of a Zamfara State High Court, which gave the APC the go-ahead to field candidates during the 2019 polls.
There were reports on Monday that the Court of Appeal nullified the APC primaries in Zamfara State.
But the counsel for the APC candidates, in his letter to INEC, said the Court of Appeal did not make such an order.
He said his clients drew his attention to a letter written by counsel to Marafa’s lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), wherein he stated that, “there is absolutely no legal basis for any of the APC candidates that allegedly emerged victorious from the said sham elections to be issued with any certificate of return.”
Court didn’t nullify our primaries – APC
Faulting INEC decision to withhold the APC candidates’ certificates of return, he said, “We wish to state that issues of law of this nature are regulated by an order of court or court of law and not by opinion of counsel via a mere letter from chambers.
“May we further emphasise that in the entire judgment of the Court of Appeal, there was neither a positive order made against our clients nor in favour of the appellants.
“Thus, it will be wrong of the commission to rely on the mere speculative letter of the appellants’ counsel at this stage when elections have already been concluded and winners have emerged. The only institution that is empowered to make a positive order in respect of this subject matter is the court of law, and no court of law has made or given an order to that effect.”
Quoting section 235 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the solicitor states that, “the law is trite, right of appeal to the Supreme Court is constitutional and no court or any person can take it away by mere letter.
“We urge you and the entire commission to discountenance the letter of Mike Ozekhome (SAN), wherein there was no position order at the court of appeal.”
Mahmud, SAN, also argued that the judgment of their Lordships which did not contain any positive order in favour of the appellants was supported by the provisions of section 285 (13) of the 1999 Constitution (4th alteration as amended).
Following the judgment of the Court of Appeal, INEC on Tuesday suspended issuance of certificate of return to the Governor-elect of the state, Alhaji Muktar Shehu.
The commission said in a tweet on Tuesday that it had been served with the judgment of the appeal court and was studying it.
The tweet read, “INEC has been served with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, concerning the candidates of the APC in Zamfara and is studying same.
“Consequently, the presentation of certificate of return to the Zamfara governorship and state House of Assembly members-elect scheduled for Wednesday, March 27, has been suspended.”