By Sola Olugbemiro
Those who the gods want to kill, they first make mad. This aphorism may be playing out in the life of the self-imposed lord of Zamfara politics who is soon to meet his waterloo at the temple of justice if found guilty of the litany of allegations against him.
The embattled Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara State is not finding things easy given the barrage of weighty accusations pointing to his overreaching influence and undue interference on due process in his state and even beyond. He is accused of having turned Zamfara into his personal estate, while using instruments of state to subdue perceived enemies.
Recent reports accuse him of high-handedness, disrespect to party hierarchy and wanton corruption.
As if this was not enough, the recalcitrant Yari has refused to retrace his steps. He is now so unpopular his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has distanced itself from him. The party is embarrassed that Yari’s unwholesome activities has led to a matter at the Sokoto Division of the Appeal Court in the substantive suit regarding his role in the Zamfara APC governorship primaries, particularly his imposition of a preferred candidate against the wishes of the party’s stakeholders from the ward to the national levels.
Several disclosures backed with legal references from various respected legal practitioners in Nigeria have jointly and severally asserted that no any reasonable court of law in Nigeria can legalize the so-called primary election by the APC in Zamfara State. Available facts indicate that APC didn’t conduct an acceptable primary in Zamfara.
As provided by the electoral act and the party’s constitution ‘primaries are to be conducted not by the state governors, primaries are to be conducted by electoral panel sent by the party’s NWC, the results of which are to be announced by the returning officer who officially chairs the primary election, not the party state chairman or any other party official for that matter.’
From the foregoing, it only stands to reason and common sensibility that Yari is already a goner and is only marking time, because once the national chairman of your party is not in sync with you, the people you have ( mis )governed and embezzled their money, the traditional rulers, civil society groups, and lawyers of note including the international community, are all against his untoward antics and anti-party activities, all of which have piled up to paint him a Judas Iscariot.
The Appeal Court sitting in Sokoto on Monday, March 25 summarily set aside a judgment of a high court, which allowed the APC to field candidates in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State, a judgment that has been hailed across board, with the stringent call urging INEC to return Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates as winners.
The PDP had insisted that the APC participated illegally in the Zamfara State governorship election. It said this was evident in the ruling of the Court of Appeal that nullified the primary that produced the governorship candidate of the APC who participated in the election.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, applauded the court for the judgment, saying that the “night ruling that INEC relied on to allow the APC participate in the election was suspicious.” He said, “The Court of Appeal judgment has vindicated us. The judiciary is alive and we are happy for that. Though the judges are facing a lot of challenges from an intimidating government, we are however happy that the judges are strong and telling the truth to power.” Justice Yakubu, who delivered the unanimous judgment, said all evidence placed before the court had shown that the respondents (APC and others) did not conduct primary elections which accordingly, contravened the electoral law.
He stated, “We have looked at the exhibits 4, 7 and 8 which are very clear that primary election was not conducted. Evidence shows that the state governor only appointed a special committee that later came up with candidates’ names in place of primary elections. So far, all evidence constituted that primary election was not conducted which contravened the electoral law.”
The judge also faulted the lower court for relying heavily on oral evidence in taking its decision, saying “oral evidence cannot be used to discredit any written evidence. A procedure must be followed whether there is an order or not. “
This court hereby set aside the judgment of the trial court. This must be a hard and bitter lesson for all political parties who will not follow the guidelines,” part of the judgment read.
On lack of jurisdiction to entertain the suit as argued by the appellants, the Appeal Court submitted that the lower court had power to determine such a case in accordance with the law, and therefore ruled in respondents’ favour. Lawyers have referred to the Zamfara ruling as a lesson for INEC, politicians and parties.
Olugbemiro, a journalist and media practitioner writes from Gusau