S’Court Reserves Ruling in APC’s Suit to Reclaim Zamfara

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court yesterday reserved ruling in an application by the All Progressives Congress (APC) praying for the setting aside of the consequential order that made the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) beneficiary of all elective positions in the 2019 general election in Zamfara State.

A five-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, announced that the decision of the apex court in the matter has been reserved to a date that will be communicated to parties shortly after lawyers representing parties in the matter adopted their briefs of argument.

While arguing the application for setting aside of the consequential order that barred its clients from the 2019 general election, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), informed the panel that the order was made out of jurisdiction.

Clarke said the APC, which brought the application challenging the consequential order, was not against the main judgment because the party did not conduct the primary election for the nomination of candidates for the 2019 general election.

The senior lawyer, who admitted bringing the application for the second time, added that what the Supreme Court ought to have done was to order a fresh primary election and an election for all elective positions in the state.
He informed the panel that the consequential order, which made the PDP candidates for all elective offices winners was in bad taste and ought to be reversed.

Clarke said it was wrong of the apex court to have declared over 400, 000 votes as wasted simply because APC at the time did not conduct primary election known to law because of its internal dispute.

He, therefore, urged the court to invoke its inherent jurisdiction to set aside the consequential order that brought PDP’s candidates to power in Zamfara State and instead, order APC to conduct a fresh primary election and to also order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct new elections into all elective offices in Zamfara State.
However, Senator Kabiru Marafa, who is the first respondent in the matter, urged the apex court to dismiss the request of the APC for want of jurisdiction and merit.

Marafa through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), informed the panel that the APC’s application was caught by Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, which prescribed 60 days for hearing and determination starting from the date the notice of appeal was filed.
Ozekhome argued that the apex court gave final judgment in the Zamfara governorship tussle over 10 months ago, adding that bringing such application for the second time is a gross abuse of the process of the apex court.

He urged the court to dismiss the application with huge punitive fine to keep the party away from further abuse of the court process.
Ozekhome cited the decision of the court in the Bayelsa and Imo States governorship tussles, adding that the apex court has made it clear that its judgment on any issue is final for all times, ages and that no force on earth can change the decision except a law made to that effect.

The CJN after taking submissions from counsel, said the ruling had been reserved to a date to be communicated to parties in the matter.
The apex court had last year ordered that the candidates of parties that came second in 2019 general election be inaugurated as winners following the nullification of the nominations of APC candidates on account of failure to conduct valid primary as required by law.