The Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday complied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal (Abuja Division), which ordered the inclusion of the candidates of the All Progressives Congress in the ballot papers for Zamfara Elections.
Consequently, the commission has included the APC candidates in the ballot papers for the 2019 National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections. The position of INEC was contained in a statement signed by its National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
The statement read, “ln the case of the APC in Zamfara State, the Federal High Court, Abuja and the Zamfara State High Court issued conflicting orders relating to the participation of the APC in the two strands of elections scheduled for February 23 and March 9, 2019.
“While the former ruled that the APC, having failed to conduct party primaries cannot field candidates in the said election, the latter decided that it can field candidates having conducted valid party primaries.
“However, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division on February 21 2019 set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja for “lack or want of jurisdiction on the part of the lower court.
“This in effect means that the Zamfara State High Court‘s decision that the APC can field candidates for the National Assembly, governorship and state assembly elections is the only valid and subsisting order.
Consequently, the commission has today (Friday) in compliance with the said order, restored the APC to the ballot in the National Assembly, governorship and State House of Assembly elections scheduled for February 23 and March 9 2019.”
Meanwhile, Senator Kabir Marafa’s faction of the APC in Zamfara State said on Friday that the Thursday’s judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja did not clear the party to present candidates for the general elections in the state.
The group said in a statement issued by their lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), that “the assertion” that the Court of Appeal had cleared the way for the APC to participate in the polls which would start today with the National Assembly elections on Saturday was “false”.
The rival Governor Abdul’aziz Yari-led faction of the party in the state had celebrated the Thursday’s Court of Appeal’s verdict which set aside the earlier judgment of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on the crisis.
But Ozekhome said on Friday that the Court of Appeal only set aside the judgment of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction but refused to make any order asking INEC to accept the party’s candidate.
The lawyer argued that in the absence of any specific order by the Court of Appeal, it implied that the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, validating INEC’s decision not to accept the candidates of the APC in the state succeeded in part.