By Haruna Salami
The Supreme Court has affirmed Senate President Ahmad Lawan as the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for Yobe North.
The apex court, in a majority judgment delivered on Monday, allowed the appeal filed by the APC against Bashir Machina’s candidature.
In a split judgment, three out of a five-member panel agreed with the position of the APC that the suit at the trial court ought not to have commenced via an originating summons since it contained allegations of fraud.
“The bedrock of the suit shows that there were allegations of fraudulent practices against the appellants,” Centus Nweze said.
“That the 1st respondent accused the APC of fraudulently substituting his name with that of Lawan.
“Where there is an allegation of fraud, it should not be commenced by an originating summons.
“There was a need to call witnesses to prove allegations of fraud”.
However, in a dissenting judgement, Adamu Jauro and Emmanuel Agim, two judges of the Supreme Court, affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal.
“I affirm the brilliant judgment of the appellate court as to the appropriateness of the use of originating summons,” Agim said.
Agim said relevant facts showed the withdrawal of the senate president from the senatorial race to pursue his presidential bid.
He said facts also showed that Machina won the senatorial primary, adding that “the APC did not give INEC 21 days mandatory notice before going ahead to conduct another primary election on June 9.
He said the party did not cancel the May 28 election before going ahead to conduct another primary election.
The justice also noted that INEC was absent and did not monitor the June 9 election.
“The appellant has not contradicted that findings of fact are perverse or unreasonable,” Agim said.
“The failure to challenge the findings of facts defeats the entire appeal.”
He said Machina won unopposed during the senatorial primary organised by the party in May 2022.
However, the Yobe North controversy started when the Senate President was said to have participated in another primary organised by the APC after he contested the presidential ticket unsuccessfully in June.
Machina was reportedly asked to step down for Lawan but he insisted that he is the rightful candidate.
Amid the controversy, the APC submitted the senate president’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate for Yobe north.
Speaking with journalists Monday, Lawan thanked God for his blessing and favour of what had happened in the Supreme Court, adding that “the judgement on Yobe North, particularly is a victory for APC in Yobe and generally APC across the country.
“What happened was democracy at work and the courts gave their various judgements and of course the Supreme Court gave the final judgement.
“I want to commend the Supreme Court at this point and of course the judiciary generally for making this kind of judgment 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 all.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank the All Progressives Congress, our party, for taking this matter to the Supreme Court.
“Actually, as an individual, I didn’t go to the Supreme Court to seek for a redress, but my party did and my people of Yobe North and Yobe State generally and many political associates and well wishers across the country and beyond that there had to be an appeal at the Supreme Court on this matter.
“So today, it is a victory for all of us involved. I am the symbol, but the victory is for our party the APC and for democracy.
“For you journalists, you have been very wonderful, especially the Senate Press Corps. What can we do without you? Where can we go without you?
“The press Corps in the Senate has been one segment of our complex that gives out for the last four years authentic and valid information to the public on what we do.
“This 9th Senate has been a very productive Senate and our colleagues have shown interest in what has been happening in this Senate.
“I thank all my colleagues in the Senate for the support and the love, for the partnership and I want to recommit myself to ensuring that the leadership of the Senate to continue to lead very well. We will always be appreciative of our colleagues who gave us the mandate to lead the 9th National Assembly. We will be looking at the 25th of February when the Presidential and the National Assembly elections will take place.
“By the Grace of God Nigerians will Vote APC once again. On the 25th the presidential candidate of the APC Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Jagaban Borgu will be voted in as President of Nigeria by the grace of God along side distinguish senator Kasim Shetima who is the vice presidential candidate.
“When it comes to the senatorial and House of Representatives, you know what it will be. It will be a landslide majority for the APC and the same thing for the House of reps.
“We will continue to give Nigeria leadership to continue with those programmes and projects that we have been doing very well and rethink and retool those that we think we have not done very well. This I believe will make Nigeria better”, he concluded.