Tunde Opalana, Abuja
After a two day consideration of Friday’s judgement of the Supreme Court which cancelled votes scored by all elected candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday declared candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winners.
The Commission after careful examination of the judgement and wide consultation with its legal team, complied with the apex Court ruling and declared Dr. Bello Mohammed Matawalle and Mahdi Aliyu Gusau as Governor and Deputy Governor elect.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja on Saturday, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the Commission also declared three PDP senatorial candidates, Alhaji Yau Sahabi (Zamfara North), Mohammed Hassan (Zamfara Central) and Lawali Hassan Anka (Zamfara South) duly elected.
He said the PDP clinched all seven House of Representatives seats in the state and while it won 23 out of the 24 State Assembly seats.
While the legislative elections (Senatorial, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly elections) are straight forward to deal with because they entail first-past-the-post or simple majority of votes, Yakubu said the Governorship election is determined not just by majority votes but also spread in accordance with Section 179 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“This means that we had to first discount the votes cast for the APC at the elections and then carefully rework the spread by Local Government Areas based on the new valid votes”, he said.
Providing background to the legal process that culminated in the Supreme Court decision on 24thMay 2019, Yakubu said ” you may all recall that the Commission issued the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 general elections on 9thJanuary 2018, over one year in advance.
Among other activities, the conduct of party primaries was scheduled to take place between 18thAugust and 7thOctober 2018.
“Unfortunately, the APC did not conduct its primaries in Zamfara State within this stipulated time and the Commission duly informed the party that it would not be in a position to present candidates for elections in the State.
“Subsequently, various interested parties, including the APC itself, approached the court over the decision of the Commission.
“Just before the election, the subsisting court judgment at the time ordered the Commission to include the APC on the ballot for the Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections, which the Commission complied with.
” However, since the elections were completed, a Court of Appeal judgment and now a Supreme Court judgment have determined that the APC did not conduct valid primaries for the elections in question.
“In its judgment delivered on 24thMay 2019, the Supreme Court, having determined that the APC did not conduct valid primaries, said that the votes cast for the party in all the elections in question were “wasted” and ordered the Commission to recognize the runners-up as the winners.
“This judgment affects the positions of Governor and Deputy-Governor, three Senatorial, seven Federal and twenty-four State Assembly Constituencies.
The chairman, however, admonished other political parties to learn from the fate that befell the APC.
“I wish to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of all stakeholders, but particularly the political parties, to the implications of the Supreme Court judgment on the Zamfara matter.
” It to get is clear that properly conducted party primaries are cardinal to the proper internal functioning of political parties, the electoral process and our democratic system at large.
“Therefore, political parties must take very seriously the conduct of primaries according to all extant rules, including the monitoring of the processes by INEC to avoid a repeat of the Zamfara experience.
The chairman disclosed that Certificates of Return will be issued to the Governor and Deputy Governor-elect, Senators-elect and Members of the House of Representatives-elect on Monday 27th May 2019 at the Commission’s Electoral Institute at 2.00pm.
He added that members of the State House of Assembly-elect will receive their certificates from the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Zamfara State at the INEC State Office in Gusau on Friday 31stMay 2019 at 10.00am.