The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, yesterday, affirmed the judgment of a Federal High Court in Damaturu, Yobe State, which declared Mr Bashir Machina as the genuine All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, the appellate court dismissed the appeal filed by Senate President Ahmad Lawan for lacking in merit.
Dongban-Mensem, who led three other justices of the court, resolved all the issues formulated by the appellant against him.
In dismissing the appeal, the court awarded the sum of N1 million against the Senate President, in favour of the 1st defendant.
The court held that the primary election of the APC, conducted by the party on June 9, 2022, and relied upon by the appellant, contravened provisions of the Electoral Act, as the same was not monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Dongban-Mensem held: “Section 84 (5) of the Electoral Act 2010, provides that the 3rd defendant (INEC) must be present at every primary election of a political party seeking to nominate candidates for political offices.
“This section is designed to checkmate political parties who involve in acts of impunity and also to check political parties holding parallel primaries.
“INEC must be in attendance to ensure internal democracy and identify authentic candidates that emerged from these primaries.”
Justice Fadima Aminu of the Federal High Court had, in her judgment, held that Machina remains the APC authentic candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District.
She held that the “phantom June 9 primary election” that produced Lawan as winner and candidate was a “nullity” because INEC did not monitor the exercise.
Aminu also discountenanced the claim that the case was statute-barred, saying the cause of action arose on June 17, not May 28.
Aminu directed INEC to accept and publish his name, according to the electoral guidelines. She further declared that Machina was duly and validly elected, thereby upholding the May 28 primary election of the party that produced him.
Machina had emerged as the winner of the primary election supervised by INEC officials, where Lawan did not participate because he was one of the presidential aspirants.
The Senate President had contested and lost the APC presidential primaries to a former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He, however, tried unsuccessfully, to reclaim the ticket won by Machina, who has since insisted he would not relinquish the ticket to the top lawmaker.
The judge said Machina, the plaintiff, approached the court when he discovered that the first defendant, APC, had forwarded Lawan’s name to INEC as its candidate.
She, therefore, held that the constitutional requirement of filing the case, not later than 14 days from the election, was not applicable.
Aminu ruled: “In the final analysis, the conditions for the validity of primary elections were fulfilled in the election of May 28, 2022, which produced the plaintiff. The phantom election of June 9 2022, which produced the second defendant, is, hereby, declared invalid, in view of the outlined provision of the law of the very primary election.”