…Wants Parties to Take Conduct of Primaries, Internal Democracy Seriously The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has so far withdrawn 64 Certificates of Return and re-issued them to persons declared winners by courts of law, following the 2019 general elections. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the presentation of Certificates of
…Wants Parties to Take Conduct of Primaries, Internal Democracy Seriously
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has so far withdrawn 64 Certificates of Return and re-issued them to persons declared winners by courts of law, following the 2019 general elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the presentation of Certificates of Return to Zamfara State Governor-elect and members of the National and State House of Assembly elect from the state.
Yakubu reiterate the importance of conducting proper primaries by political parties before elections in order to reduce the spate of litigation associated with them.
“At the moment, there are 809 pre-election cases pending in various courts across the country challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties for the 2019 general elections.
“This is clearly more than the total number of petitions currently before the various election petition tribunals nationwide challenging the outcome of the main election.
“In our last update, the Commission reported that 25 certificates of return had been withdrawn and issued to persons declared winners by courts of law. Since then, three more certificates have been withdrawn by court order.
“With the Zamfara case, the figure has now risen to 64. In addition, the Commission is studying nine more judgments we were served in the last one week in which primary elections conducted by different political parties were upturned by the courts,’’ he said.
Yakubu said that the Zamfara example is not the first pre-election case determined by the Supreme Court arising from the recent party primaries.
He recalled that earlier, the apex court had determined the case of Lere Federal Constituency in Kaduna State which the Commission had already complied with and issued the certificate of return to the winner.
Yakubu said that Nigeria’s democracy in particular and electoral process in general could never be virile unless political parties rise to the challenge of internal party democracy.
“It is in this context that the latest judgments of the Supreme Court are crucial steps in strengthening our electoral jurisprudence,” he said.
Yakubu said that going forward, INEC would not accept the submission of names of candidates by political parties under Sec. 31of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) unless there is evidence, monitored by the Commission, of compliance with the provision of Sec. 87 of the Act.
“Party members interested in contesting elections start as aspirants before they emerge as candidates through the democratic process of direct or indirect primaries enshrined in Sec. 87 of the Electoral Act.
“It is only after they comply with the requirement that their names can be submitted to INEC under Sec. 31. We shall continue to work with the political parties to ensure strict compliance,’’ he said.
The INEC Chairman reminded political parties that party primaries for Kogi and Bayelsa election are scheduled for between Aug. 2 and Aug. 29.
He urged them to make the two elections shining examples of internal democracy by the way they conduct their primary elections.
“This will no doubt have a positive impact on the conduct of the proper elections,’’ he said.
INEC at the occasion presented Certificate of Return to the Zamfara State governor elect, Dr Bello Matawalle of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his Deputy, Mr Mahdi Gusau.
Others issued certificate of return are three Senators-elect and seven Members of the House of Representatives-elect under the platform of PDP, while 24 certificates would be presented in Gusau to winners of the State Assembly elections, on Friday.
The new Zamfara State Governor-elect has commended Nigeria’s judicial system for standing up to the truth in the discharge of its responsibilities.
Matawalle became the governor-elect on Friday, as the candidate with the second highest number of votes from the last governorship election in the state.
This followed a five-member panel decision of the Supreme Court which nullified the All Progressives Congress (APC) victory over the party’s failure to conduct primaries as contained in the party’s constitution.
In a statement by one of his aides, Mr Umar Mohammed, Matawalle said: “The Judgement is a testimony that the Judiciary has remained fair in the discharge of its responsibilities.
“I wish to congratulate the people of Zamfara State, especially PDP supporters, for remaining peaceful and orderly throughout the time we were seeking redress in courts.
“l want to assure you that we will not fail in this confidence reposed in us and I want to appeal to all people in the state to continue to be law abiding as we transit into the new government,” he said.
Also reacting to the new development, the state’s out going Deputy Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Wakkala, commended the Supreme Court Judgement describing it as “a landmark achievement for the nation’s democracy. ”
Wakkala, who contested for the governorship position but lost out because he was not supported by his boss, outgoing Governor Abdulaziz Yari, later joined seven other aspirants all within the APC and formed a faction which fought the governor and his supporters to a halt.
Meanwhile, supporters of the PDP as well as those of other political parties in the state have taken to the streets in jubilation over the Supreme Court announcement.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, has described as injustice, the Supreme Court judgement, which upturned the party’s electoral victory in Zamfara on grounds of technicality.
He stated this while speaking with newsmen at the party’s national Secretariat in Abuja on Monday, in reaction to the development after the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) meeting.
The five-member panel of the Supreme Court justices, in a unanimous judgement on May 25, declared that the APC in Zamfara had no candidates in the 2019 general elections.
This, it explained was because the party failed to conduct recognised primaries in accordance with party rules.
In the lead judgment by Justice Paul Galinji, the apex court held that all votes cast for the APC during the general elections in Zamfara were “wasted votes”.
Oshiomhole declared that the Supreme Court ruling amounted to imposing total strangers on the people of Zamfara.
He added that the right thing the court should have done, was to call for a repeat of the elections if the party fell short of electoral laws.
He stressed that all political parties with the second highest votes in the elections and with the required spread, were elected to various elective positions in the state.
Oshiomhole, however, maintained that since it is impossible to appeal the Supreme Court ruling, the party will take its case the God.
On the votes cast for the APC at the elections which the court said were wasted votes, Oshiomhole recalled that at the time the votes were cast, a High Court had ruled that the party’s candidates were validly nominated.
“There is something I learnt from Lord Denning, a famous British Supreme Court Justice, that the law has to be interpreted taken into account the intention of the lawmakers, and try to deliver justice in its purest form.
“So, there is no justice when on grounds of technicalities, you impose on the people of Zamfara, not just a man or a woman, but a whole party candidates from Governor to Senate and others that they didn’t elect.
“If the court thought we were wrong, justice would have demanded that we repeat, but you cannot use technicalities because we are in a democracy.
“There is nothing democratic when the court imposing strangers to govern a people, but we understand that after the Supreme Court, we can only take our case to the Court of God, to that extent we must obey the Court,” he said.
He further maintained that what the APC got in Zamfara was a judgement that didn’t translate to justice, considering the way the people of the state voted for the party and its candidates.
He, however, declined comments when asked whether the party would sanction its members that took it to Court in Zamfara.