The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) asking the commission to postpone the governorship, House of Assembly and National Assembly elections in Zamfara State to enable the All Progressives Congress (APC) to field candidates in the polls.
A copy of the three-page letter bearing Malami’s signature and dated February 13, 2019, with reference number MJ/DSD/03, emerged online on Thursday.
The letter was addressed to the Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
The Attorney General said was informed by a petition he received from the law firm of M.A Mahmud & Co., anchored his request for the postponement of the elections in the state on a judgment of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal.
Malami, a member of the APC, said in the letter that the Court of Appeal’s judgment delivered on Wednesday affirmed an earlier verdict of the Zamfara State High Court which had held that the party conducted valid primaries for the various elective positions in the state.
He said granting the concession of postponing the polls in Zamfara State in the light of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, was not a matter of doing APC a favor but a right the party was entitled to.
His letter stated, “In view of the fact, now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the primaries as valid, the APC in Zamfara State will need a little time to catch up with its contemporaries in the election.
“Granting them this concession is not necessarily a favor but a right that inures to all contestants under similar circumstances.
“Consequent on the above, INEC is invited to comply with the judgement of the Court of Appeal by admitting the results of the APC Zamfara State Primaries and to also comply with the provisions of Section 38 of the Electoral Act which empowers INEC to postpone the election for the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly Elections.”
No legal basis
Reacting during a call for a press conference to address the letter by the AGF on Thursday, Mike Ozekhome, counsel to Senator Kabir Marafa and others involved in the appeal, dismissed claims made by the minister.
Ozekhome said, “There is absolutely no legal basis whatsoever for this letter which is clearly meant to circumvent the judicial process already activated by all parties concerned.
“I act for Senator Kabiru Marafa, Hon Dauda Lawal and others.”
The Zamfara State High Court, however, ruled in its judgment that the party held valid primaries, contrary to a pronouncement of the Federal High Court in Abuja, that the party did not conduct any valid primaries.
In the face of the two conflicting judgments from the courts of coordinate jurisdiction, INEC insisted that it would stick to its original position that the APC failed to conduct valid primaries in the state and therefore would not be allowed to field candidates for the polls.
Malami, however, stated in his letter to INEC that the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal in appeal marked CA/S/23/2019 affirmed the Zamfara State High Court’s judgment and nullified the Federal High Court’s.
The minister, therefore, asked INEC to invoke the provisions of section 38 and 39 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2010 to postpone the elections in order to give room to APC to field candidates and catch up with its contemporaries in the polls.