Is there any remedy in law for the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the Supreme Court’s voiding of its electoral victories in Zamfara State?
There is, says eminent lawyer Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), who asked APC to apply to the apex court for a review of the verdict as well as the one, barring the party from fielding candidates in Rivers State during the last elections.
The court on April 24 transferred APC’s victories in Zamfara State to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for alleged irregularities in the ruling party’s primaries.
To Sagay, the verdicts “are a travesty of justice”.
He said in a statement: “The Zamfara and Rivers State judgments are a national tragedy. We should not allow our legal system to throw up such unimaginable injustice.
“This major judicial disenfranchisement of the Zamfara and Rivers electorate should be reversed. I advise the APC legal team to apply for a review of the two judgments.
“Their Lordships ought to be given an opportunity to reverse this unprecedented tragedy.
“The prefix ‘Justice’ preceding the names of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges is significant, for it prescribes what they stand for and what they represent: justice!”
Sagay pointed out that in the governorship election in Zamfara, the APC candidate scored well over 500,000 votes while the PDP candidate scored just over 100,000 votes.
He noted that the APC won all three Senate seats in the state, seven House of Representative seats and 24 State House of Assembly seats.
The statement reads in part: “By this judgment, the landslide APC victories in the governorship, Senate, House of Representative and House of Assembly elections are transferred to the PDP.
“If the APC primaries were defective, should the electorate be deprived of their democratic and constitutional rights to vote? Is the electorate to be punished for the transgressions of party officials?
“Should the judiciary replace the electorate’s decision and install losers in office? Could the judiciary not have drawn on the deep recesses of its intellectual capacity, authority and its inexorable commitment to justice, to prevent this undemocratic calamity?
“Can the APC officials not be punished, for their lapses without denying the electorate their democratic rights? Should the judiciary take over the electoral rights of the electorate? Is this not a clear case of technical law completely overthrowing justice?
“Have the members of the Supreme Court not achieved a level of creativity and authority to provide a solution without burying democracy and taking over from the registered voters as the judicial electorate?
“If this judgment had been an international one, it could have been described as ‘shocking the conscience of humanity’. In this case, it shocks the conscience of Nigerian humanity.”
Citing several authorities, Sagay said the Supreme Court is specially endowed with the power and authority to do justice and to ignore law when it is technical and would create injustice, and to avoid at all costs a mechanical approach to the interpretation of the law.
“Now, has justice been served in Rivers and Zamfara states? No! In one case, innocent electorate in their hundreds of thousands were prevented from voting for their party by judicial order.
“In Zamfara, where voting took place, the verdict of the electorate was taken away from the victorious party and awarded by the Judiciary to the woeful losers.
“In the next four years, Zamfara State will be governed by a party and politicians rejected by the electorate. This indeed shocks the conscience of Nigerian humanity.”
He also referred to Section 140(1) – (3) of the Electoral Act, which prohibits any court from declaring a loser of an election elected even if the person with the highest votes was not validly elected.
“I am not interested in the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010. I am only deeply concerned and interested in the fundamental and peremptory principle of justice.
“No judge should announce his judgment until he is satisfied that justice has been served, no matter how strong the pull of mechanical and technical law,” Sagay added.