The Supreme Court of Nigeria will tomorrow, May 24, 2019 determine whether Zamfara, one of the states in Nigeria will have a government, and whether or not it will have representatives in the State House of Assembly, Federal House of Representatives, and the Nigerian Senate.
The panel of justices of the apex court will be presided over by the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammed. Others are Justices Olukayode Ariwoola, John Nyang Okoro, Paul Adamu Galinje, and Uwani Musa Abba-Aji. They will deliver judgment on the suit number SC/SC/378/2019 filed by the winner of both the All Progressives Party (APC) gubernatorial candidate and the March 2019 governorship election, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris, and 38 others seeking to set aside the judgment of the Court Of Appeal, Sokoto, so as to “prevent a situation whereby the people of Zamfara state would be denied the valuable representation of their elected leaders”.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto State on the 25th of March, led by Justice Tom Yakubu had struck out the judgment of a Zamfara High Court on the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election that produced the party’s candidates for the governorship, national and state assembly elections.
Justice Mohammed Shinkafi of Zamfara High Court, in his judgment dated January 25, 2019, in resolving the controversy surrounding the primary election of the APC ruled that the party conducted primary election in Zamfara State, and ordered INEC to accept the list of candidates submitted to it by a faction of the party. The Court of Appeal stated it found there was flagrant breach of the Electoral Act 2010 and the Party Guidelines for the conduct of the party’s primary election.
In the appellate brief filed by Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN on behalf of the governor-elect and other elected members of both the state and Federal legislatures, the appellants raised seven issues for the Supreme Court to determine. The issues include the following:
Whether the entirety of the judgment of the Court of Appeal is not a nullity, having given consideration to a Notice of Appeal not filed before it;
Having not participated in the general elections in 2019 nor sought relief at the Court of Appeal, whether the appeal at the lower court was not academic and incapable of vesting utilitarian value on the 1st to 141st respondents;
Whether in the face of the failure of the third defendant/respondent to call the makers of exhibits 4,7, 7a, and 7b to give evidence and their failure to tie the exhibits to any aspect of the 3rd defendant’s case, any probative value can be rightly accorded to the documents to form the basis of any proper evaluation;
Whether the testimonies of PW1 and DW1 suffer any legal constraints to undermine the credibility of their testimonies;
Whether the unchallenged documentary pieces of evidence in exhibits 3a, 3a1, 3a2 and 3a3 did not prove the conduct of primary elections in Zamfara State by the National body of APC, moreso that, the unchallenged documentary evidence were corroborated by other pieces of evidence;
Whether the Court of Appeal was right in reaching its conclusion that primary elections in Zamfara State were conducted by Zamfara State executive of the party;
Whether the Court of Appeal gave adequate evaluation to the materials before it, moreso that exhibits 4, 7, 7a,and 7b were inadmissible pieces of evidence?
Fagbemi is leading other lawyers including S.T. Ologunorisa SAN, Mahmoud Abubakar Mogaji SAN, Hakeem Afolabi SAN, and a retinue of other lawyers.
The respondents’ lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN argued against all the seven grounds and urged the court to deliver judgement in favour of the respondents. “This appeal ought to fail and be dismissed for the further simple and yet fundamental reason that there are no valid reliefs in the notice of appeal before the court”.