• Marafa kicks, appeals Zamfara High Court ruling

By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it had compiled with the judgement of Appeal Court and had restored candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State to the ballot in the National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections scheduled for February 23 and March 9, 2019.

This decision triggered jubilation in the camp of Governor Abdulaziz Yari, whose candidates made the list submitted to INEC by the APC headquarters.

However, the APC Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabir Marafa, whose camp was not favoured, said he had filed an appeal at the Sokoto Division of the Appeal Court, against the decision of the Zamfara State High Court, which INEC relied on for its decision.

The commission in a statement signed by its National Commissioner, Mr. Festus Okoye, said it had consistently maintained that it would always obey court judgements and orders.

The Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division, had on Thursday set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja for “lack or want of jurisdiction on the part of the lower court.”

Okoye stressed that by this judgement, the Zamfara State High Court‘s decision that the APC can field candidates for the National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly elections was the only valid and subsisting order.

He further added that in the case of APC in Zamfara State, the Federal High Court Abuja and the Zamfara State High Court issued conflicting orders relating to the participation of the APC in the two strands of elections scheduled for February 23 and March 9, 20l9.

Okoye said while the former ruled that the APC, having failed to conduct party primaries cannot field candidates in the said election, the latter decided that it can field candidates having conducted valid party primaries.

To this end, Okoye asserted: “Consequently, the Commission has today, in compliance with the said order, restored the APC to the ballot in the National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections scheduled for 23rd February and 9th March 2019.”

INEC’s decision favoured the faction loyal to Governor Yari, whose candidates are on the list submitted by the APC.

Yari and his supporters spent most of yesterday celebrating. They also made last minute efforts to ensure that their National Assembly candidates make an impact in today’s elections.

Though, the APC Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabir Marafa, whose camp was not favoured, said he had accepted the decision, saying it was the will of God, but surprisingly added that he had filed an appeal against the Zamfara High Court ruling (Which INEC based its decision on) at the Court of Appeal, Sokoto.

He said: “This is what Allah has decided and destined, we have accepted it. We tried our best but Allah knows the wisdom behind this. I have said it, that whatever comes out from the court, we will open our hands and accept it as Allah’s will. What we are fighting is injustice and nothing personal.

“I’m appealing to my teeming supporters to be law abiding and shun anything that would cause confusion and breach of public peace. Please come out massively to vote for President Buhari. And for other elections, vote for the candidates that will protect you and your properties in senatorial and House of Representatives elections. Vote according to your conscience.”

The Senator while thanking his teeming supporters for their support said, “We have already filed an appeal at the Sokoto Division of the Appeal Court.It will come up soon. We will pursue it to its logical conclusion. I sincerely thank all the good people within and outside the state that supported us in standing up to Governor Yari and his backers.”

The crisis in the Zamfara State APC led to the emergence of two factions in the party – a faction loyal to Yari and the other faction known as G8, which comprised eight governorship aspirants including the incumbent Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala, the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Mansur Danali and others.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party in Zamfara State is happy with INEC’s decision to list APC candidates.

The PDP governorship candidate in the state, Alhaji Bello Matawalle said it would be an opportunity for the APC to test its popularity in the state.