A Federal High Court in Damaturu, Yobe State, has ordered the All Progressives Congress (APC) to submit the name of Bashir Shariff Machina as the authentic candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District.
Justice Fadimatu Murtala on Wednesday upheld the May 28 primary of the party and nullified the parallel primary of the APC which on June 9 produced Senate President Ahmed Lawan.
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Machina had brought the suit against the APC and Lawan over the naming of Lawan as the candidate of the party, arguing that he did not participate in the May primary.
He contended that the attempt to replace him violated Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Article 21.3 of the APC Constitution and Paragraphs 20 (c), 27 (c), (d) and (f) of the APC Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2023 General Elections, the suit is not premature, and Section 223 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
But in a counter affidavit, the APC and Lawan asked the court to dismiss the suit by Machina challenging the substitution of his name as the party’s candidate in the 2023 senatorial election of the party.
APC and Lawan argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear and determine this suit since the plaintiff was basing his action on a primary election not conducted by the National Working Committee of the APC.
They further contended that Machina lacked the locus standi to bring the suit, having not participated in the rescheduled primary election for Yobe North Senatorial District conducted on June 9th, 2022.
They contend that Machina did not exhaust the internal mechanisms of the party after the primary before approaching the court.
Reacting, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said its established policy is to obey orders of courts of competent jurisdiction and that it will not depart from the policy.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, told Daily Trust in Abuja that the commission is a public trust and has a responsibility to give effect to orders of court and that this is the essence of Section 287 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.
“As I pointed out, the commission will comply with the specific orders directed at it and this can only be done when we get the CTC of the order. We also expect the party to comply with the orders directed at it.
“The commission and the parties are products of the constitution and the law and must be seen as handmaids of the rule of law and due process,” he said.
When contacted, Machina said, “I am feeling great, contented and confident that at least, our judicial system has once again reiterated the confidence it is for every citizen and the common man. So there is hope.
“I felt this is another step that will once again strengthen our democracy as it is still nascent. I believe it is part of things that will encourage people to participate in the democratic system.”
Asked of those pushing him, he said, “the party, APC, is pushing me. It is the party that is behind me. I am in APC. My party is APC.”