2023: Court Clears Matawalle for Zamfara Governorship Election

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Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, cleared the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Governor Bello Matawalle to participate in next Saturday’s election in Zamfara State.

The judge gave the verdict while ruling on an application filed by the National Rescue Movement (NRM) and its governorship candidate, Saidu Dansadau.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and APC were listed as defendants in the suit.

Also joined in the suit were the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Accord Party, Matawalle, Bala Maru, Mahdi Gusau, and Nasiru Magarya.

The plaintiffs had asked to determine if APC can occupy the office of Governor of Zamfara from 2019 to 2023 when it did not sponsor any candidate and participate in the 2019 governorship election in Zamfara.

They also urged the court to determine if the votes the PDP garnered in the 2019 election can be transferred to APC or any other political party.

They, therefore, urged the court to order the inauguration of Dansadau as governor of Zamfara being the next candidate with the highest votes in the 2019 election.

Alternatively, they sought an order directing INEC to conduct another governorship election in Zamfara within 30 days between candidates who took part in the 2019 election.

They also prayed for an order excluding the APC from the March 11 election having been disqualified from the 2019 exercise.

In his ruling, Justice Ekwo dismissed the case for lack of merit.

He held that the constitution does not prescribe any penalty against a governor or deputy governor who defects from the political party on whose ticket he got into office to another political party.

The judge said that having identified the lacuna in the constitution, the court lacked the power or jurisdiction to fill the gap, or interpret what the constitution had not made provision for.

He said: “I am of the view that the sanction against a governor or deputy governor who abandons the political party that sponsored him is by way of impeachment under Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution.

“That is a duty for the legislature and not the courts, as it is a political decision.”

“Consequently, I am bound by the decision of the Court of Appeal which in my opinion, has settled the issue in this case.

“The case of the plaintiffs falls for lacking in merit and I make an order dismissing it.”