Prominent civil rights advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has described as a travesty of justice and a grave affront to constitutionalism and democracy the inexplicable majority judgment delivered on Monday, in which the Supreme court allowed the appeal filed by the APC against Bashir Machina’s candidature thus installing Ahmed Lawan who never contested the lawfully recognised Party primary as the flagbearer in the February 2023 National Assembly poll.
HURIWA which reacted to the verdict of the Appeal instituted by the All Progressives Congress against the rightful candidate of the party that emerged through a process of party primary -Alhaji Bashir Machina, HURIWA affirmed that the decision of the Supreme Court to hide under technicalities to deny citizen Bashir Machina his lawfully deserved candidature of the All Progressives Congress shows that the Supreme Court has deliberately become the ‘ordaining prelate’ or DONOR of electoral slots to political parties rather than allow the due process of party primary to become Supreme.
HURIWA recalled that whilst delivering the 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.
HURIWA recalled the lead verdict as affirming thus: “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.”
HURIWA which lambasted the Supreme court for once more manifesting a shameless predilection to mutilate and mess up Democratic ethics on the altar of technicalities, recalled that the majority decision of the Supreme court returning Ahmed Lawan as APC candidate in the 2023 Senatorial poll when the extant electoral Act does not permit dual participation of a single person in both the presidential primary election and then the primary for the Senate Seat.
“This ruling of the nation’s Supreme Court is shameful and is a big aberration reminding us of how this same Supreme court returned Mr. Hope Uzodinma of the APC who came fourth in the 2019 Imo State governorship election to the position of number one won by the then People’s Democratic Party’s Emeka Ihedioha who was forced out of office after seven months as the governor of Imo State.
HURIWA applauded Justices Adamu Jauro and Emmanuel Agim, two judges of the supreme court, who affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal thus: “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 the justice 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.”
HURIWA recalled that Bashir Machina won unopposed during the senatorial primary organised by the party in May 2022.
But 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.
The electoral commission subsequently refused to list any candidate for the district.
Aggrieved, Machina instituted 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, ordered the APC and INEC to recognise Machina as the candidate.
A month later, an Abuja court of appeal affirmed Machina’s election as the candidate of the APC for the Yobe north senatorial district.
Still not satisfied, the APC appealed the appellate court’s judgment.