The Supreme Court has affirmed Senator Ahmed Lawan as the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Yobe North Senatorial election.
The apex court, in a majority judgement yesterday, sacked Bashir Machina, who was earlier recognised by the Federal High Court in Damaturu and Court of Appeal in Abuja as APC candidate for the election.
The split judgement of three to two voided and set aside the judgements of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, which recognised Machina as the APC candidate.
The lead judgement by Justice Chima Centus Nweze faulted the procedure for the commitment of Machina’s suit at the Federal High Court in Damaturu, which was by way of originating summons rather than by a writ of summons having raised some contentious issues that require evidence.
However, in a dissenting judgement, Justices Adamu Jauro and Emmanuel held that Lawan having not participated in the primary held on May 28, as he withdrew voluntarily to participate in the presidential primary held on the 8 June, 2022, had no right to challenge the outcome in court.
The dissenting justices held that the party’s conduct of a fresh primary on June 9, 2022, which produced Lawan, was in breach of Section 84 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, and was therefore illegal and unlawful, while the APC appeal lacked merit.
The Senate President had lost the APC presidential primary to a former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who later emerged as the APC presidential candidate.
Although Lawan did not take part in the Yobe North senatorial primary, the party had sent his name to INEC as its candidate but the electoral body refused to recognise him in line with the Electoral Act.
Machina who won the primary had resisted pressure to step down for Lawan and headed for the court to seek justice.
Both the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal had in 2022 dismissed APC’s case challenging Machina’s candidacy on the grounds that the primary election that was conducted by the party on June 9 was invalid, as it was not monitored by INEC, and as such constituted a gross violation of the Electoral Act, 2022.
S/Court has strengthened democracy – Lawan
Senate President Ahmad Lawan has hailed the Supreme Court judgement, which recognised him as the authentic candidate of the APC for Yobe North.
Lawan had said last year that he would not challenge the decisions of the lower courts, which affirmed Bashir Machina as the rightful candidate of APC for Yobe North.
Briefing reporters yesterday in Abuja, Lawan insisted that he didn’t approach the Supreme Court to seek a redress; his party, constituents in Yobe North and political associates did.
He said the Ninth Senate under his leadership had been productive and restated commitment to the leadership of the Red Chamber.
“I want to, at this point, commend the Supreme Court and of course the judiciary generally for making this kind of judgement to strengthen our democracy because it is not only for politicians to work and strengthen democracy. It is all of us and all the institutions have their roles to play. So, I commend them,” he said.
Jubilation in Yobe
Hundreds of Gashua residents, the headquarters of Bade Local Government of Yobe State, danced around the major streets of the town to celebrate the Supreme Court’s judgement affirming Lawan’s candidacy.
They expressed joy, chanting songs of peace and solidarity in honour of Ahmad Lawan, whom they said had given them adequate representation in terms of execution of constituency projects, human empowerment, eloquence at the floor of the Senate as well as sponsoring of relevant bills that have positive impact on the lives of Nigerians.
Lawan’s loyalist, Mr Shehu Gashua, said, “We are really happy with this development, and hoping that our brothers (in Machina’s camp) would join hands together with us towards the success of our party at all levels.”
When contacted, Hon. Lawan Sani Inuwa Nguru, member of Yobe State House of Assembly and Machina’s Campaign Coordinator, said they would respond to the judgment at the appropriate time.
Hussaini Muhammad Isa, media aide to Machina, simply said: “We have left the court now; the court has ruled in favour of Ahmed Lawan.
Machina did not respond to calls and a text message seeking his reaction.
By John Chuks Azu, Abdullateef Salau (Abuja) & Habibu Idris Gimba (Damaturu)