On Friday, May 24, the Supreme Court invalidated all the votes cast for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general elections in Zamfara State because the primary elections that produced the candidates did not follow the party guidelines.
The ruling by the five-member panel of justices, led by Justice Paul Adamu Galinji, has thereby nullified the victories of Mukhtar Idris, APC’s gubernatorial candidate in the state, and Abdulaziz Yari, the outgoing Governor and winner of the Zamfara West Senatorial district election.
This brings the question: What role did President Muhammadu Buhari play during the party’s primary in the state. Could he have done more?
Before answering any of these questions, let us take a look at what exactly happened during the APC primary elections in Zamfara.
It all started over who should run for the governorship position. Yari wanted his Commissioner for Finance, Mukhtar Idris, to be his successor but other aspirants, including Senator Kabiru Marafa, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, who represents Zamfara Central, wanted an open election.
They ended up holding parallel elections, with Idris ending up the winner of the Yari-faction. The rancorous conduct of the primaries made the leadership of the APC to dissolve the state executive committee and set up a new panel to conduct fresh primaries and warned Yari against interfering.
Then the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) told the APC that it was not going to allow them field candidates in the state because they did not hold primary elections before the deadline elapsed.
In a swift response, National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, denied the claim that primary elections did not hold. He said that although the members had disagreements over the elections, the respective parties reached an agreement before the INEC deadline elapsed.
The electoral body eventually doubled back on its decision after a court order to the contrary and allowed the party contest in the elections but like many things, the grave consequences of the unresolved feud in the state has now cost them their eventual victory.
After the March 23 elections, Idris won the Zamfara State gubernatorial elections by a wide margin but he, alongside all other APC winners were not given their Certificate of return by INEC. The commission said this was because of the ruling of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal had set aside the judgement by the Zamfara High Court because the lower court did not properly evaluate and assess all the evidence put before it before making its judgement. The three member panel of judges, led by justice Yakubu, said on a critical re-evaluation and re-assessment of the evidence by the appellant court, it was discovered that the party did not follow the provision of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended and the guidelines provided by the party in selecting its candidates.
The APC did not relent as they then went on to the Supreme Court and with the ruling, the victory they were expecting has slipped from their hands.
One person who will be pleased with the ruling is none other than Senator Marafa. The Senator said all he wants is that the rule of law takes place in the state and that he did not want any personal gain.
He once said that Yari had brought shame unto his state because of the faux-primaries he allegedly orchestrated. He said the Governor had no power to conduct primary elections and stressed that no APC primary election happened in Zamfara.
While all this was going on Yari visited President Buhari alongside his Ogun and Imo state counterparts, Ibikunle Amosun, and Rochas Okorocha. Everyone though the President was brokering a peace deal for the states that had primary election problems. None got resolved. The President towed the neutrality line and the disputes went unresolved.
President Buhari can not fully absolve himself from the failure of the ruling party in Zamfara because his neutrality gave Yari the free hand to do as he wished. But the real people to blame are Yari, for his unfairness and injustice; and of course Oshiomhole, for failing to disciplines the actions of overzealous leadership in Zamfara and other troubled states.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section.