Court of Appeal clears way for APC to field candidates in Zamfara

The Court of Appeal in Sokoto has dismissed an appeal against the judgment of a Zamfara State High Court asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for various offices in Zamfara State.

The judgment effectively paves the way for the APC to participate in all elections in the state starting on Saturday with the presidential and National Assembly polls.

A three-member panel of judges unanimously dismissed the appeal following its withdrawal by the appellant, Aminu Jaji.

INEC had earlier insisted it would not recognise the Zamfara candidates who were produced after the stipulated time for primaries.

The electoral body also maintained its position following conflicting judgments on the matter by a high court of Zamfara and federal high court on January 25.

The High Court in Zamfara had on that day ruled that the actually conducted primaries in the state and should be allowed to present candidates for the electoral contest.

That court specifically directed INEC to accept candidates from the party for Zamfara. Justice Muhammad Shinkafi, who delivered the ruling, said the APC conducted primaries elections on October 3 and 7, 2018.

The court also barred the national secretariat of the APC from replacing the names of those who won the primary elections of the party.

A Federal High Court in Abuja, however, ruled otherwise on a suit filed by some individuals, who said they emerged from a consensus arrangement adopted by the party in Zamfara State.

The court said INEC acted within its powers by refusing to accept the list of candidates from the Zamfara State chapter of the APC.

In the judgment, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, said it was not the fault of INEC that the APC failed to conduct a valid primary within the period scheduled by the electoral body.

Mrs Ojukwu said INEC’s action was intended to curb impunity among political parties and politicians and ensure that rule of law is adhered to.

The party said it conducted primaries which produced current governor Abdulaziz Yari as a senatorial candidate and his commissioner of finance, Shehu Idris, as governorship candidate, among other candidates.