See why Supreme Court gave Yobe North senatorial candidacy to Ahmed Lawan, 2 Justices disagree
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has affirmed the nation’s Senate president, Ahmed Lawan, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for Yobe north.
In a judgement delivered on Monday, the apex court allowed the appeal filed by the APC against Bashir Machina’s candidature.
Delivering the judgment, three out of a five-member panel concurred with the position of the APC that the suit at the trial court ought not to have commenced via an originating summons since it contained allegations of fraud.
In the lead judgement, Justice Centus Nweze faulted the approach of Machina in commencing the suit at the Federal High Court, Damaturu division, by way of originating summons and without oral evidence to prove allegations of fraud.
Nweze said, “The bedrock of the suit shows that there were allegations of fraudulent practices against the appellants.
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“That the 1st respondent accused the APC of fraudulently substituting his name with that of Lawan. Where there is an allegation of fraud, it should not be commenced by an originating summons.
“There was a need to call witnesses to prove allegations of fraud,” he added.
In the majority decision, the apex Court also set aside the decision of the Appeal Court, Gombe Division, which affirmed the decision of the trial court that declared Machina the Senatorial Candidate for Yobe North.
But in a nonconforming decision by Justices Emmanuel Agim and Adamu Jauro, the apex Court said Lawan never participated in the APC primary held on 28 May, as he withdrew voluntarily to participate in the presidential primary held on 8 June 2022.
The minority decision held that in the conduct of another primary on June 9, 2022, where Lawan emerged was in breach of Section 84 (5) of the Electoral Act as the APC never cancelled that held on 28 May before organizing another.
During the party’s primary election in May 2022, Machina emerged as the unopposed winner of the election while Lawan contested and lost the party’s presidential ticket to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Machina had previously lamented that the Senate president and some forces within were trying to clinch the ticket from him.
Amid the outburst, the APC submitted Lawan’s name to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) as its candidate, leaving the confused electoral body with no choice but to leave the senatorial district candidacy empty when it released the full list of candidates across the country.
Machina had in turn dragged both his party and the INEC to court in a suit asking the court to declare him as the authentic senatorial candidate.
In September 2022, a Federal High Court in Damaturu, the Yobe capital, declared him as the winner ordering both the APC and INEC to recognise Machina as the candidate.
Also, an appeal court in Abuja affirmed Machina as the authentic candidate of the APC Yobe North senatorial district.
After losing at both levels, the ruling party took the case to the apex court where it argued that the primary election held on 28 May last year which produced Machina was in breach of the Electoral Act 2022.
The counsel to the party, Sepiribo Peters contended that one Danjuma Manga who conducted the said primary election was not nominated by the National Working Committee of the party.
He told the court that the APC cancelled the primary poll on account of the irregularities observed during the exercise.
He argued that the other primary held on 9 June was conducted by the APC NWC, and produced Lawan as the party’s authentic candidate.
However, Machina’s lawyer, Sarafa Yusuf, prayed the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit on the ground that the Senate President did not challenge the suits at both the trial and lower courts.
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