Less than 20 days to the general elections, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has declared the current senate president, Ahmed Lawan as the authentic Candidate of Yobe North Senatorial District in the February 25, 2023 national assembly election.
In the lead judgement read by Justice Centus Nweze, the court faulted the approach of Bashir 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.
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 dissenting decision by Justices Emmanuel Agim and Adamu Jauro, the apex Court said Ahmad Lawan never participated in the APC primary held on 28 May, as he withdrew voluntarily to participate in the presidential primary held on the 8 June 2022.
The minority decision held that 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 the earlier election that held on 28 May before organising another one.
Justice Centus Nweze who read the lead judgement, held that the decisions of the Federal High Court in Yobe and the Court of Appeal in Abuja were perverse and must be set aside.
He added that Mr Machina ought to have commenced his suit by a writ of summons going by the allegations of fraud levelled against the APC in transmitting Mr Lawan’s name to INEC.
But, two other members of the Supreme Court panel, Adamu Jauro and Emmanuel Agim, disagreed with the majority judgement.
In the lead dissenting judgement, Justice Adamu Jauro held that the APC “appeal is devoid of merit.” He slammed a N3 million fine against the APC in favour of Mr Machina.
Justice Emmanuel Agim while reading his dissenting view, says the APC’s primary election held on 9 June which produced Mr Lawal was an illegal contraption.
He noted that Mr Lawan’s withdrawal from the Yobe North Senatorial District race on 12 May, to vie for the APC presidential ticket automatically disqualified the Senate President from the National Assembly election.
Mr Agim further adds that the purported primary election held on 9 June, 2022, was a ruse as it was not monitored by INEC.
The APC had challenged the nomination of Bashir Machina as the party’s candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District.
The party insisted that Ahmad Lawan, Nigeria’s Senate President, was the authentic Senatorial candidate for Yobe North for the forthcoming general election.
At the last hearing of the appeal, the counsel for the party, Sepiribo Peters argued that the primary election held on 28 May last year which produced Machina was in breach of the Electoral Act 2022.
Peters contended that one Danjuma Manga who conducted the said primary election was not nominated by the National Working Committee (NWC) 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.
He also pointed that Manga who conducted the primary election where Machina emerged, was a member of the NWC-appointed Committee to carryout the exercise.
The APC had approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja seeking to nullify the judgment of lower court that declared Machina as APC’s candidate for Yobe North, but the President of the Court, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem led the panel held that the appeal was an abuse of court process.