Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), has directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone elections in Zamfara State.
He premised his decision on the need to ensure that candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) participate in the 2019 elections.
According to Malami, the directive is as a result of the judgment of the state High Court in suit No ZMS/GS/52/2018 between Sanusi Liman Dan-Alhaji and 37 others Vs APC and 144 others; and Appeal No: CA/S/23/2019.
A letter dated February 13, 2019, and addressed to Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, read: “My office received a petition from the firm of M.A. Mahmud (SAN) & Co. in respect of the above subject matter (copy attached for ease of reference) requesting that the subsisting judgment in Suit No. ZMS/GS/52/2018 – Sanusi Liman Dan-Alhaji & 37 ORS V. APC & 144 ORS be upheld and respected by INEC, as the Court of Appeal has upheld the Appeal No. CA/S/23/2019, thus effectively annulling the grounds upon which the purported cancellation of the APC primaries in Zamfara State by INEC was based.
“You may wish to recall that the Zamfara State High Court upheld the Zamfara APC primaries in the suit mentioned in the first paragraph above, held on October 3 and 7, 2018 for the governorship and the national and state legislative houses.
“You may further wish to recall that in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2018- APC V. INEC & 5 ORS, the Federal High Court held that the nullification of the said Zamfara APC primaries by INEC was lawful. However, this decision has been upturned in Appeal No CA/S/23/2019. Copy is also attached for ease of reference.
“In the circumstance and in consideration of the provisions of Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act, 2010, the law allows INEC the latitude and discretion to extend the time within which a political party may duly field a candidate for an election where unforeseen circumstances constrained such a party from doing so within the stipulated time frame.
“In this particular instance, the constraining circumstances that led to the delay in fielding candidates were caused by INEC’s refusal to comply with the Zamfara State High Court judgment in the aforementioned suit to uphold the primaries as held. Moreover, INEC cannot foreclose the right of a political party to participate in elections without recourse to the Act. By the doctrine and principle of judicial precedence, the Appeal supersedes the Federal High Court’s Position in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2018 –APC V. INEC & 5 ORS.
“In view of the fact, now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the Primaries as valid, the APC in Zamfara State will need a little time to catch up with its contemporaries in the election. Granting them this concession is not necessarily a favour, but a right that inures to all contestants under similar circumstances.
“Consequent on the above, INEC is invited to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal by admitting the results of the APC Zamfara State primaries and to also comply with the provisions of S.38 of the Electoral Act, which empowers INEC to postpone the election for the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly elections.”