By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that it is yet to be served any of the two conflicting court rulings issued last Friday on whether or not it could accept candidates for Zamfara State presented by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming general election.
A High Court sitting in Gusau, Zamfara State, presided over by Justice Muhammad Shinkafi in suit No: ZMS/GS/52/2018, had ruled that the ruling APC actually conducted primaries in the state and should be allowed to present candidates for the electoral contest.
However, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2018 dismissed the case of the APC and ruled that INEC acted within its powers by refusing to accept the list of candidates from the Zamfara State chapter of the APC.
INEC, had last October, said it would not allow the APC to field candidates in Zamfara because the party failed to conduct primaries before the deadline stipulated.
Some members of APC in the state had approached the court challenging the decision of INEC.
The party said it conducted primaries which produced the current governor Abdulaziz Yari as a senatorial candidate and his Commissioner for Finance, Shehu Idris, as the governorship candidate, among others.
Justice Shinkafi, who delivered the ruling, said APC had conducted primary elections on October 3 and 7, 2018.
The Zamfara court specifically directed INEC to accept candidates from the party for Zamfara State in the forthcoming elections.
The court also barred the national secretariat of the APC from replacing the names of those who won the primary elections of the party.
But Justice Ojukwu, in her judgment, said it was not the fault of INEC that the APC failed to conduct a valid primary within the period scheduled by the electoral body.
The judge said that INEC’s action was intended to curb impunity among political parties and politicians and ensure that rule of law is adhered to.
Justice Ijeoma contended that the APC failed to conduct a valid primary within the period scheduled by the electoral body.
She said such action from INEC was good for democracy, adding that it would instill discipline in political parties.
The judge noted that if consensus candidates are to emerge, there are laid down rules, the constitution of a party, which must be adhered to strictly.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Voter Education and Information, Festus Okoye, told THISDAY that the electoral body has noted the judgment delivered by the High Court in Gusau and the one delivered by the Federal High Court in Abuja.
He stated: “The Commission notes that the Gusau High Court in Zamfara State and the Federal High Court in Abuja are courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
“INEC has not received Certified True Copies of the two judgments as well as the enrolled court orders.
“As soon as the commission receives the two judgments and enrolled court orders, the commission will carefully and meticulously study both judgments for proper understanding of the issues that were canvassed before both courts and the issues formulated for determination as well as the ‘ratio’ that informed both judgments.
“In taking a decision, the Commission will also be guided by the specific orders made by the courts and or the reasons for the dismissal of one of the suits.
“As soon as the Commission concludes its analysis and study of the judgments and orders of both courts, it will take a position that accords with the law and the Constitution and inform the parties and the Nigeria people accordingly.”