The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, has claimed that the Electoral Act 2022 contains loopholes that allowed some candidates to be purportedly imposed on the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2023 elections.
Sowore, in a tweet on Thursday, noted that one of such loopholes allowed the court to declare Senate President Ahmad Lawan as the candidate for the Yobe North Senatorial District “in an election where he never participated in the primary.”
It is reported that the Supreme Court on Monday affirmed Lawan as the All Progressives Congress senatorial candidate for Yobe North.
In a majority judgment delivered, the apex court allowed the appeal filed by the APC against Bashir Machina’s candidature.
The court declared Lawan the winner of the Yobe North senatorial candidacy over the winner of the May 29, poll, Machina.
Reacting, Sowore said, “I had a chance to tell Nigerian lawmakers the lacuna in the Electoral Act that got the Senate President, Lawan declared a candidate in an election where he did not contest the primary.”
Sowore in a video that accompanied his tweet, recorded while speaking at a National Assembly public hearing on the Electoral Act 2022, said, “I also seriously think that the Electoral Act has some lacuna that is being exploited by the judiciary. We are all aware that even though the portal for the electoral process has been closed, courts are still giving conflicting judgments regarding candidates in this election, including candidates that did not even participate in the primary that has been imposed on INEC as we speak. One of them is your (Senate) President here.”
“An Electoral Act that also empowers INEC to be a major decision-maker for political parties is not a democratic Electoral Act. I also want to say that the Senate should look directly into how to curb INEC’s power to deregister parties because that does not promote democracy at all,” Sowore added.
It is recalled that the APC delivered victory to Lawan after dragging Machina to the apex court while insisting that Lawan, who didn’t contest the primary, was its “authentic candidate.”
Meanwhile, while addressing journalists after the judgment of the apex court on Monday, Lawan lauded the judgment, saying it showed that “democracy is at work.”
Lawan said, “What happened was democracy at work and the courts gave their various judgments and of course, the Supreme Court gave the final judgment. I want to at this point commend the Supreme Court 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. All institutions have their roles to play. So I commend them.”
During the party’s primary on May 8, 2022, Machina emerged as the unopposed winner of the election while Lawan contested and lost the party’s presidential ticket to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Machina had previously cried out that the Senate President and some forces were trying to clinch the ticket from him.
Amid the outburst, the APC submitted Lawan’s name to INEC as its candidate, leaving the confused electoral body with no choice but to leave the senatorial district candidacy empty when it released the full list of candidates across the country.
Machina had in turn dragged both his party and INEC to court in a suit, asking the court to declare him as the authentic senatorial candidate.
In September 2022, a Federal High Court in Damaturu, the Yobe capital, declared Machina as the winner, ordering both the APC and INEC to recognise Machina as the candidate.
Also, an Appeal Court in Abuja affirmed Machina as the authentic candidate for the APC Yobe North senatorial district.
After losing at both levels, the ruling party took the case to the apex court where it argued that the primary election held on May 28 last year which produced Machina, was in breach of the Electoral Act 2022.
The counsel for the party, Sepiribo Peters, contended that one Danjuma Manga who conducted the said primary was not nominated by the National Working Committee of the party.
He told the court that the APC canceled the primary on account of irregularities observed during the exercise.
He argued that the other primary held on June 9 was conducted by the APC NWC, and produced Lawan as the party’s authentic candidate.
However, Machina’s lawyer, Sarafa Yusuf, prayed the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit on the ground that the Senate President did not challenge the suits at both the trial and lower courts.
Culled from The Punch Newspapers