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EXCLUSIVE: Nigerian Court Nullifies PDP Zamfara Governorship Election, Bars Electoral Commission, INEC From Accepting Party’s Nomination

Pdp
October 3, 2022

The primary election was nullified on the grounds of irregularities and non-compliance.

The Federal High Court in Gusau, Zamfara State has nullified the Peoples Democratic Party's governorship primary election in the state held on May 25, 2022.

The primary election was nullified on the grounds of irregularities and non-compliance with the party's 2017 Constitution as well as its electoral guidelines for the conduct of elections.

Justice Aminu B. Aliyu nullified the governorship primary while delivering judgment in Suit No. FHC/GS/CS/13/2022, filed by Dr. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, Aliyu Hafiz Muhammad and Mallam Wadatau Madawaki against the purported primary election, which sought the order of the court to nullify it for breaching the constitutional provisions and other instant laws.

Joined in the suit were the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adamu Maina Waziri, Chairman, Zamfara State Governorship primary election of PDP; Col. Bala Mande (rtd), Chairman, Zamfara State chapter of the PDP; Dr. Dauda Lawal Dare and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants 1 to 5.

Justice Aliyu in a Certified True Copy of the judgment delivered on September 16, 2022, which SaharaReporters obtained exclusively, restrained the PDP from submitting the name of Dr. Dauda Lawal Dare, the 4th Defendant to INEC as its candidate for the governorship election in Zamfara State come 2023 unless a valid primary election is conducted in compliance with the 2017 Constitution and electoral guidelines of the PDP.

The Plaintiffs/Applicants in the suit filed on July 6, 2022, had sought other reliefs "an Order directing the 1st Defendant (PDP) to conduct a valid Primary Election for Governorship position in Zamfara State under the full supervision of the 5th Defendant (INEC) and present the winner to the 5th Defendant for enlistment as the party's candidate for the 2023 General Election in Nigeria.

"An Order directing the 5th Defendant (INEC) to accept the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Zamfara State for the 2023 General Election upon the valid conduct of Primary Election on the Order of Court."

But in its judgment, the court ordered: "A declaration is made that the 1st Defendant Governorship Primary Election in Zamfara State Claimed to have been held on 25th May, 2022 was conducted in flagrant violation of Sections 50(2) (b) & (3) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, 2017 (as amended).

"A declaration is made that the importation of staunch members of the opposition party into the 1st Defendant's list delegates and the consequent failure to validly conduct accreditation of delegates and announcement of the total number of delegates accredited to vote at the 1st Defendant's Governorship Primary Election in Zamfara State on the 25th May, 2022 is a substantial irregularity and same is offensive to part V8(c) (d) (e) & (6) of the Peoples Democratic Party Electoral Guidelines for the conduct of Primary Election.

"An Order is made nullifying the Peoples Democratic Party's Governorship Primary Election in Zamfara State claimed to have been held on the 25th May, 2022 on the grounds of irregularities and non-compliance with the 2017 Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party as well as its Electoral Guidelines for the conduct of Primary Election.

"An Order of injunction is made restraining the 1st Defendant from submitting the name of the 4th Defendant to the 5th Defendant as the Peoples Democratic Party flag bearer for the Governorship Election in Zamfara State come 2023 unless a valid Primary Election is conducted in compliance with the 2017 Constitution and Electoral Guidelines of the Peoples Democratic Party.

"An Order is made directing the 1st Defendant to conduct a valid Primary Election for Governorship position in Zamfara State under the full supervision of the 5th Defendant and present the winner to the 5th Defendant for enlistment as the party's candidate for the 2023 General Election in Nigeria."

The plaintiff had while arguing their case told the court that the electoral act provides a mandatory 21-day notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the conduct of any primary election, adding that a non-compliance with this provision of the law renders any purported election, primary or nomination invalid.

Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act (as amended) provides that: “Every registered political party shall give the Commission at least 21-day notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under this Act.”

A source who is a legal practitioner said, “It is well-settled law that where legislation lays down a procedure for doing a thing, there should be no other method of doing it. Thus, where a notice of primary election given to INEC whereat a candidate emerged as a candidate is short of the mandatory 21 days, that candidate is not qualified to contest the election.

“While surprisingly Zamfara state PDP conducts a primary election within three days which is purely a violation of electoral legislation and it's highly nonsensical.

“As it has been held that any violation of the 21 days mandatory notice goes to the root of the sponsorship or qualification of a candidate. See Dangana v. Usman. In that case, the qualification of the 1st Appellant to contest election into the Senate was attacked on the basis of the invalid primary election from which he emerged as a candidate and which primary election did not comply with the mandatory provision of Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010.

“Therefore, Dr. Dauda Lawal has breached the statute in order to impose himself as ‘a candidate’ of the PDP in the upcoming 2023 general election. In the eye of the law, his failure to meet the due process of law will surely invalidate his attempt to be regarded as a candidate sponsored by the PDP.

In a nutshell, the purported nomination of Dauda Lawal was illegal and a nullity.

“Also, the case of C.P.C. v. Ombugadu further underscores the point that for a candidate to emerge and properly acquire the right to be nominated and sponsored by a political party at an election, he ought to have emerged from a properly conducted primary election. Per Ngwuta J.S.C. thus: ‘…the sole purpose of a party’s primary election is the emergence of one of the contestants as the party’s candidate at the election…I subscribe to the above view and I wish to add that there can be no nomination of a candidate and acquisition of a vested interest in an inconclusive party primary election.’

“In the case of Labour Party v. Wike, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division reviewed and upheld the earlier decision of the Tribunal on its interpretation and application of Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). In that case, the Labour Party had sponsored a candidate for the governorship election but the notice it gave for its primary election was less than the 21 days prescribed by Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). The party and its candidate lost the election and the party presented the election petition subject matter of the appeal.

The court viewed that the Labour Party lacks the locus standi to institute an action since it fails to comply with the 21-day notice as provided by the electoral act.

“In conclusion, the above position of the law has shown that only a candidate who duly complied with electoral provisions can participate in an election.”

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