Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate for the African Action Congress, has expressed his concerns about the Electoral Act 2022, claiming that it has loopholes that enable certain candidates to be unfairly imposed on the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2023 elections.
In a recent tweet, Sowore pointed out a specific example, alleging that the court declared Senate President Ahmad Lawan as the candidate for the Yobe North Senatorial District in an election where he never took part in the primary.
According to BIZTELLERS, the Supreme Court upheld its decision on Monday, affirming Senate President Ahmad Lawan as the All Progressives Congress’ senatorial candidate for Yobe North.
In a majority judgment delivered by the Supreme Court, an appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against Bashir Machina’s candidacy was allowed.
The court declared Senate President Ahmad Lawan as the winner of the Yobe North senatorial candidacy, effectively overturning the result of the May 29th poll, in which Machina was declared the winner.
Reacting, Sowore said, “I had a chance to tell Nigerian lawmakers the lacuna in the Electoral Act that got the Senate President, Lawan declared a candidate in an election where he did not contest the primary.”
In a video that accompanied his tweet, Sowore, speaking at a National Assembly public hearing on the Electoral Act 2022, said: “I also seriously think that the Electoral Act has some lacuna that is being exploited by the judiciary.
“We are all aware that even though the portal for electoral process has been closed, courts are still giving conflicting judgements regarding candidates in this election, including candidates that did not even participate in the primary that have been imposed on INEC as we speak. One of them is your (Senate) President here.”
According to a report, the All Progressives Congress (APC) secured victory for Senate President Ahmad Lawan by taking Bashir Machina to the Supreme Court and maintaining that Lawan, who did not participate in the primary, was the party’s “authentic candidate.”
After the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday, Lawan spoke to journalists and praised the judgment, stating that it demonstrated that “democracy is at work.”
During the All Progressives Congress’ primary on May 8, 2022, Bashir Machina emerged as the unopposed winner of the election, while Senate President Ahmad Lawan participated but lost the party’s presidential nomination to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, Machina had raised concerns about Lawan and other forces attempting to take the senatorial ticket from him.
Amid the controversy, the All Progressives Congress submitted Ahmad Lawan’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as its candidate.
This left the electoral body in a state of confusion, with no option but to leave the senatorial district candidacy unassigned when it released the complete list of candidates across the country.
In response, Bashir Machina took both his party and the Independent National Electoral Commission to court in a lawsuit, seeking a declaration that he was the legitimate senatorial candidate.
In September 2022, a Federal High Court in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe, declared Machina as the winner and ordered both the All Progressives Congress and INEC to recognize him as the candidate.
Furthermore, an Appeal Court in Abuja upheld Machina as the legitimate candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the Yobe North senatorial district.
After losing at both lower courts, the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, took the case to the Supreme Court. In their argument, the party claimed that the primary election held on May 28 of the previous year, which resulted in Machina’s victory, violated the Electoral Act 2022.
The party’s counsel, Sepiribo Peters, argued that the individual who conducted the primary, Danjuma Manga, was not nominated by the National Working Committee of the party.
Peters told the court that the APC cancelled the primary due to irregularities that were observed during the election.
Peters argued that the subsequent primary held on June 9 was conducted by the National Working Committee of the APC and resulted in Lawan being recognized as the party’s legitimate candidate.
However, the lawyer for Machina, Sarafa Yusuf, asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal, claiming it lacked merit, as the Senate President did not contest the suits at both the trial and lower courts.