Alex Enumah in Abuja
The fate of the Zamfara State governor-elect, Muktar Idris; a senator-elect, Abdul’aziz Yari, and other members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) elected into offices both at the National Assembly and state assembly elections in the state will be decided on May 24, 2019, following the reservation of the date for jugment by the apex court.
The Supreme Court yesterday fixed the date after taking arguments from lawyers involved in two separate appeals on the Zamfara State APC primary election conducted last year for the nomination of candidates into various positions in the last general election.Also to be decided that same day is the Ekiti State governorship election being challenged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Prof. Kolapo Olusola.
Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad presided over the five-member panel of the apex court that heard the Zamfara and Ekiti appeals.
Counsel in the Zamfara suits had appealled to the justices to deliver judgment in the suits before May 29, so as not to create constitutional crisis in Zamfara State.
In the Zamfara main appeal filed by Sanusi Alhaji, his counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), pleaded with the five- man panel of the Supreme Court to allow the appeal and restore the judgment of the Zamfara High Court, which allowed APC to field candidates in the 2019 general election.
Fagbemi specifically canvassed that the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which prohibited APC from nominating candidate for the general election on the grounds that the party did not conduct lawful primary should be set aside because the judgment was a miscarriage of justice.
However, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) who represented Senator Kabiru Marafa and other respondents, urged the court to dismiss the appeal and affirm the Appeal Court judgment, which held that the APC in Zamfara State did not conduct primary election that can qualify it to nominate candidates for the last general election.
The position of Ozekhome was adopted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through its counsel, Tanimu Inuwa (SAN), who told the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
Tanimu argued that the Court of Appeal in Sokoto was right in stopping APC from fielding candidates for the 2019 general election in the state because the party failed to conduct any primary election known to law.
He urged the apex court to dismiss the appeal.
In a related development, Justice Muhammad has also fixed May 24 for judgment delivery in the appeal that emanated in the conduct of the last gubernatorial election in Ekiti State.
Appellant in the appeal, the PDP had urged the Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and that of the Court of Appeal, which both held that the appellant failed to establish riggings and malpractices in the election that produced the current Governor Fayemi.
The PDP insisted that contrary to the decision of the tribunal and the Court of Appeal, all documents front- loaded at the tribunal were demonstrated as allowed by law and not dumped on the tribunal as erroneously held by the two lower.
The Supreme Court on May 2 adjourned to May 16, 2019, to commence hearing in the appeals filed by the APC in Zamfara state.