From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has affirmed the judgment of a Federal High Court in Damaturu, Yobe State, which declared Mr Bashir Machina, as the genuine candidate for the All Progressives Congress( APC) Yobe North Senatorial District.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, the appellate court dismissed the appeal filed by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawal for lacking in merit.
Justice Dongban-Mensem, who led three other justices of the court, Justices Haruna Tsammani and Peter Ige resolved all the issues formulated by the appellant against him.
In dismissing the appeal, the court awarded the sum of N1 million against the Senate President in favour of the 1st defendant.
The appellate court held that the primary election of the APC conducted by the party on June 9, 2022 relied upon by the appellant, contravened the provisions of the Electoral Act, as same was not monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).
“Section 84 (5) of the Electoral Act 2010, provides that the 3rd defendant(INEC) must be present at every primary election of a political party seeking to nominate candidate for political offices.
” This section is designed to checkmate political parties who involved in acts of impunity and also to check political parties holding parallel primaries.
“INEC must be in attendance to ensure internal democracy and to identify authentic candidates that emerged from these primaries,” Justice Dongban-Mensem held.
Justice Fadima Aminu of the Federal High Court had in her judgment held that Bashir Sheriff Machina remained the APC authentic candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District.
She held that the ”phantom June 9 primary election” that produced Ahmed Lawan, the Senate President, as the winner and candidate, was a “nullity” because INEC did not monitor the election.
Aminu also discountenanced the claim that the case was statute bar, saying the cause of action arose on June 17, not May 28.
Justice Aminu directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept and publish his name according to the electoral guidelines.
she further declared that Machina was duly and validly elected Yobe North senatorial candidate for APC thereby upholding the May 28 primary election of the Party that produced him.
Machina had emerged as the winner of the primary election supervised by INEC officials where the senate president, Ahmed Lawal did not participate because he was one of the presidential aspirants.
Lawan had contested and lost the APC presidential primaries to a former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He, however, tried unsuccessfully, to reclaim the Yobe North Senatorial District ticket won by Machina, who has since insisted he would not relinquish the ticket to the senate president.
The judge said Machina, the plaintiff, approached the court when he discovered that the first defendant, APC, had forwarded Lawan’s name to INEC as its candidate.
She, therefore, said the constitutional requirement of filing the case not later than 14 days from the election was not applicable.
“In the final analysis, the conditions for the validity of primary elections were fulfilled in the election of May 28, 2022, which produced the plaintiff. The phantom election of June 9 2022 which produced the second defendant is hereby declared invalid in view of the outline provision of the law of the very primary election.
“Consequently, the plaintiff has hereby declared the validly elected candidate of the first defendant of the Yobe North senatorial candidate of the first defendant conducted on 28/05/2022 for the 2023 general election.
“The first defendant is hereby ordered to prepare the name and details of the plaintiff to the third defendant as its rightful candidate. This is my decision,” Aminu ruled.