The ongoing drama in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara state over the party’s primaries is excavating so many things and bringing them to the fore. One of such things that the unfolding controversy succeeded in doing is among other things exposing some writers and columnists, who over the years have been masquerading as committed intellectuals with a passion for justice, fairness, and rule of law.
But reading the Thursday column of Abba Mahmood in Leadership newspapers, dated February 7, 2019, and titled ‘Call Yari to Order,’ exposed the columnist and changed my long perception of him as a columnist who treats public issues with fairness and decorum.
The columnist, for whatever reasons, abandoned the age-long cardinal principles of fair-play, objectivity, dabbled into an outright onslaught on the personality of Governor Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara state. The attacks, camouflaged in the column, as a treatise on the APC primaries logjam, were most unfortunate and devoid of any civility.
For the purpose of clarity, let us address the issues of APC primaries in Zamfara state and the subsequent court cases that followed it. It was on record that between October 6 and 7, 2018, the APC in Zamfara state conducted its own primary elections for governorship and legislative offices. The winners of the primaries emerged on October 7, 2018. A day after their emergence, specifically on October 8, there were rumours that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was planning to reject the winners of the Zamfara APC primaries. By October 9, INEC indeed announced that APC had no candidates from Zamfara state because they were not submitted before the deadline. The following day, October 10, the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, replied INEC saying that APC has candidates from Zamfara.
It is worthy of note here that before INEC and Oshiomhole started traded words over the Zamfara APC candidates, the APC leadership in Zamfara state had gone to a High Court in Gusau on October 8, urging the court to force APC to accept the winners of the Zamfara primary elections.
Not only that, the APC leadership in the state proved to the court that the 28 political parties indeed conducted primaries, including APC as indicated in the INEC list of candidates from Zamfara state.
The list of APC candidates in Zamfara State was captured from page 22 of the INEC list.
It was also on record that the Zamfara High Court conducted a trial and witnesses testified and cross-examined. Even Senator Marafa also testified at the court on December 28, 2018, where he admitted that primaries were conducted even though he didn’t participate.
While the Zamfara APC leadership was in court, the APC national chairman went to a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking, among others, a court ruling that will empower him to submit candidates to INEC.
The counsel of Zamfara APC asked to be joined in the case and urged the court to dismiss the Oshiomhole’s request. A fortnight ago, the two courts delivered judgement.
The High Court in Gusau presided over by Justice Muhammad Bello Shinkafi affirmed that the ruling APC in Zamfara state had conducted primaries elections on October 3 and 7, 2018.
The court also asked the INEC to accept the primaries for the APC’s governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and state assembly seats.
The national secretariat of APC was also barred from replacing the names of those who won the primary elections of the party on October 7, 2018.
In the case with a suit number ZMS/GS/52/2018, Sanusi Liman Dan Alhaji and 37 others versus APC and 143, the plaintiffs had asked the court to compel the APC and the INEC accept the results of the party’s primaries in the state conducted on October 7, 2018, among others.
After cross-examination of all witnesses, Justice Shinkafi granted the prayers of the APC and agreed that primary elections were conducted and won on October 7, 2018.
On the other hand, the Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu ruled that the APC national chairman has no powers to submit a list of candidates arbitrarily.
The APC national secretariat had appealed the judgments of the two courts, which means that it was not happy with them. It was therefore surprising how Mahmood will descend so low to be castigating the personality of the Zamfara governor for doing what is within the threshold of the law. The hacked writer went even too far to be blackmailing the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Bulkachuwa. It was unfortunate to drag the name of the learned and incorruptible jurist into the matter.
To deepen his hatred for Governor Yari, the writer concluded that the Zamfara governor will end up in jail after May 29. What a wishful thinking. It is rather unfortunate that an esteemed newspaper like the Leadership will allow unprovoked unleashing of hate speech on its pages.
The columnist also exposed himself by praising the Abuja judgement and castigating the Gusau judgement, using all manner of expletives on the learned judge. He has forgotten the fact the case in Gusau was a proper trial, while that of Abuja that of seeking interpretation. The law, what the columnist failed to understand, is not and must not tally with his whims and caprices of his masters. And blackmailing learned judges on the pages of the newspaper to coerce them into leaning to a particular point of view is, to say the least, childish.
Like the governor and APC in Zamfara have shown so far, they are believers of rule of law. And the law is on the side of the righteous. It is clear that the columnist is possessed by the vitriolic hatred of Zamfara governor. It is sad that he is befallen by that calamity.
Aminu Nuhu Sokoto, a legal practitioner and public affairs analyst, wrote from Sokoto