Atiku: Justice has prevailed in Zamfara, as it should everywhere in Nigeria
By Ayo Kehinde with Agency Reports
Alhaji Bello Matawalle, the PDP’s governorship candidate, who came second in the Zamfara governorship election with 189,452 votes behind the APC, candidate Alhaji Muktar Shehu Idris who polled a whooping 534,541 to win the election, has been declared governor-elect of the March 9 election, courtesy of a Supreme Court ruling in Abuja, Friday.
As the second runner up to winner, far ahead the candidate for the National Rescue Movement (NRM) Senator Dansadau who scored 15,177 and Dr Abdullahi Shinkafi of the APGA got 3,865, Matawale was favoured in the apex court ruling which nullified All Progressives Congress (APC), participation in 2019 elections and declared the party with second highest votes as winner in Zamfara.
In the lead judgment by Justice Paul Adamu Galinji, the apex court, which was presided over by Acting Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammed, held that all votes cast for the APC as “wasted votes” and declared that all political parties with the second highest votes in the elections and the required spread, are elected to the various elections.
The Apex court heard two election appeals seeking to ascertain authentic candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), candidates in Zamfara in the last general elections.
The APC and Malam Sanusi Dan-Alhaji had instituted the case on the primary election conducted by the party for the nomination of candidates to participate in the last general election.
Chief Lateef Fagbemi,SAN, Counsel for Dan-Alhaji, while adopting his address, prayed the apex court to restore the Feb.13 judgment of the Zamfara High Court which allowed APC to field candidates in the general election.
Fagbemi submitted that the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which disqualified APC from nominating candidate for the election on the grounds that the party did not conduct lawful primary should be set aside.
He further argued that the lower court erred in law, adding that the decision was a miscarriage of justice.
Fagbemi said the APC had shown proof the party conducted a free and fair primary to elect the candidates that contested the governorship election, the National Assembly and the House of Assembly elections respectively.
However, Chief Mike Ozekhome,SAN, Counsel for Sen. Kabiru Marafa and 142, all of the APC urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the Appeal Court.
Ozekhome submitted that the judgment was a copious description of how the APC in Zamfara failed to conduct primary election in accordance with the Electoral Act, party guideline and the 1999 Constitution.
He said the process failed both legal and integrity tests, adding that the exercise was not conducted to produce candidates for the last general election as his clients were fenced out.
Mr Tanimu Inuwa,SAN, Counsel for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) aligned himself with the argument canvassed by Ozekhome.
He further explained that the electoral body did not supervised any primary conducted by the party as mandated by law.
Inuwa argued that the Court of Appeal in Sokoto was right to have stopped the APC from fielding candidates in the 2019 general election in Zamfara.
Inuwa therefore, urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
Meanwhile, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 presidential election and former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has hailed the judgment and commended the apex court, according to a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr Paul Ibe.
He said: “Nothing is as pleasing to the ears of believers, as justice being served in the holy month of Ramadan.”
He commends the Lord Justices for putting aside the interests of the powerful and upholding the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians. “God first, Nigeria second, must be our priority as trustees of the people.”
“When justice prevails, the people rejoice, chains are broken, freedom is multiplied and society is enriched.”
Atiku Abubakar is hopeful that the Supreme Court and our Lords Justices will let Lady Justice have full reign in other petitions that will come before them, and that good conscience, fear of God and the rule of law will prevail.
In so doing, they will write their names for good on the sands of time and avoid the infamy that oppressors wish to thrust on them as their legacy.
Once again, Atiku Abubakar commends the Supreme Court for siding with justice. He congratulates the Governor-elect Hon. Bello Matawalle and the people of Zamfara, who will finally have a government that will address the issues that have made life an ordeal in that great state. The storm is over and peace and calm are coming to Zamfara.