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INEC, APC In Battle Of Wits Over Zamfara Primaries

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UMAR MOHAMMED, Gusau and ANKELI EMMANUEL, Sokoto, unravel process of the Zamfara primaries

It is not yet uhuru for the Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the expected legal action to redeem its chance of presenting candidates for the 2019 general elections might be a long wait after all.  Naturally, it is expected that Zamfara chapter of the APC will want to do everything possible to submit names of candidates for now rather than casting aspersions.
However, it seems the cloud is still dark as legal processes are often not speedy as expected. The journey towards 2019 got blurred after series a series of hidden but manifested display of a battle of wits among political gladiators in the state chapter. As egos clashed, the battle continued as all of the over eight aspirants are by every standard qualified to occupy whatever political positions they chose. They are all politically matured and are able to reach a genuine truce if sincerity of purpose is involved. That however was never to be as none of them were ready to toe the path of peace, negotiation and consensus prior to the primaries. This development therefore made it a near impossibility to conduct primary elections as all attempts were marred by violence. Irked by the development, and in a bid to save it’s integrity, the nation’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) instantly wrote to the APC stressing why Zamfara APC cannot field candidates for any elective positions come 2019.
In the said letter as signed by the commission’s Acting Secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche, Zamfara state chapter of APC was unable to meet up with INEC’s deadline on the conduct of party primaries.
The letter, written on the 8th of October tittled, ‘Failure To Conduct Party Primaries In Zamfara State Within The Stipulated Time Frame’ that was sent to APC’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomole, emphatically said it all on the subject matter.

“You will note from the timetable that the conduct of party primaries is scheduled to take place between 18th August and 7th October, 2018. Kindly also refer to the last schedule communicated by your party to the commission on the dates of party primaries nationwide, including Zamfara via your letter Ref. APC/NHDQ/INEC/19/18/51 dates 3rd Oct. 2018. “However, reports received from our Zamfara office shows that no primaries were conducted by your party in the state. Notwithstanding, our officials were fully mobilsed and deployed”, it read in part. Providing justifications for their position, INEC said the action was in conformity with the provision of section 31 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). It therefore emphaticly reaffirmed that, “The commission does not expect that your party submit names of any candidates from Zamfara State”. Succintly put, INEC’s position in this narrative is that APC as the ruling party both at the National and state levels, is therefore not expected to present candidates for any elective position come 2019: Governorship, National and State Assembly inclusive. As expected, APC replied INEC saying primaries were duly conducted in Zamfara state, hence they will therefore field candidates for all elective offices come 2019. Oshiomole responded to INEC: “We wish to state emphatically that nothing can be farther from the actual situation in Zamfara State.”
Backing his position on the matter, Oshiomole said the report from APC Zamfara Electoral committee proved that primaries were actually held between October 6th and 7th at Gusau City King Hotel and candidates emerged via consensus.

Oshiomole further berated INEC for not waiting until the set dates of final submission before punching below the belt. While pundits continue to await what becomes of the fate of the state APC in 2019, a strong contender for the state number one seat, Senator Kabiru Marafa said Oshiomole’s claim was far from the truth as no such consensus ever happened in Zamfara. With the stakes rising high, the people of Zamfara who have been over the years, weighed down with challenges of insecurity orchestrated by the activities of armed bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers continue to pray for a peaceful resolution of the matter. As such, for them, the matter at hand portends yet another grievous danger for the ordinary citizen. Without delay, aggrieved APC members rushed to the Federal High Court and State High Court seeking for action against the National Working Committee of the party and to declare INEC’s position an exercise in nullity. At the federal high Court, Lawali M. Liman was the plaintiff while at the State high Court, Sanusi Dan Alhaji, an aspirant of the Gusau State Assembly constituency filed the suit. Both courts heard the matter on Tuesday 16th October 2018. At the State High Court, the suit was filed by Mahmud Magaji (SAN) on behalf of the plaintiff while Sani Katu esq stood in for the plaintiff, APC card Carrying members and Sanusi Danalhaji. Having carefully observed the motion on notice case, the presiding judge, Justice Mukhtar Yushau issued an interim order asking all parties in the matter to maintain status quo pending the determination of the main suit.

He said, “The court is hereby directing all parties involved in the matter to maintain status quo and desist from taking any action”.Earlier, counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister Sani Katu said the motion was asking the court to recognise the primary election conducted between 3rd and 7th October 2018 as indicated in their response to INEC.  The plaintiff was also seeking the court intervention to stop the NWC from taking action contrary to the primary election already conducted in the state.  Counsel to the APC National working committee, PM Lasco expressed confidence with the outcome of the court, stressing that, asking parties to stay action pending the determination of the main suit was in the right direction. While the legal tussle might tarry, the people of the state are already expressing mixed feelings over the whole debacle.
For some, it’s a matter of constitutional consideration. Others however wondered why key players in the state chapter of the APC have allowed themselves to be swallowed by ego to a point that everybody is now a victim. Much as they continue to scrutinise the scenario from varried dimensions, a good number of the locals are expressing fears over how it will affect the state negatively.
For some, it’s not about fielding candidates in 2019 general elections, but the state of affairs in the state ahead of that time.  Those that share this mindset are of the opinion that the development would naturally affect their economic, political and social life.  For the opposition parties in Zamfara state, happenings in the ruling APC is not unexpected. According to them, it goes to prove how incoherent those seeking elective positions in the party could be.  Some members of the opposition who spoke to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY on conditions of anonymity vowed to take up legal action against INEC, should it allow Zamfara APC feature candidates for any elective positions come 2019 general elections.



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