Ade Adesomoju and Friday Olokor
The Zamfara State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has relocated to Abuja over fears of insecurity in the state capital, Gusau, where the tribunal should ordinarily conduct hearings.
At the first sitting of the tribunal in Abuja on Thursday, the panel granted the request of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, and its governorship candidate Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, to serve their petition on the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state, Mukhta Idris.
APGA and Shinkafi had filed their petition to challenge the victory of the APC and Idris in the governorship election held in Zamfara State.
Ruling on the petitioners’ ex parte application for substituted service, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Binta Aminu, granted them permission to serve the respondents by pasting the processes on the wall of the APC National Headquarters in Abuja.
The petitioners’ ex parte application was moved by their lawyer, Ifeanyi Mbaeri.
In their petition filed on March 29, 2019, the petitioners argued that Idris was, as of the time of the Zamfara State governorship election, not qualified to contest in the said election on the grounds that he was not a sponsored candidate of a political party.
They argued that by the combined provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010, the sponsorship of a governorship candidate could only be through the holding of primary elections otherwise known as special congress in the state capital, with delegates voting for aspirants of their choice.
They maintained that the APC in Zamfara did not hold either a primary election or special congress where Idris was nominated/sponsored as the party’s candidate for the Zamfara State governorship election which held on March 9.
The petitioners argued that the Independent National Electoral Commission was aware that the APC did not sponsor candidates for all elective positions in Zamfara State.
They noted that by virtue of Section 177(c) of the Nigerian Constitution, “a person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a state if, inter alia, he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party to contest the said election.”
They added, “INEC made it clear that APC will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections.”
They contended that Idris was therefore not qualified for election to the office of the governor of a state.