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Zamfara: Supreme Court affirms Lawal’s election

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Lawal seeks divine intervention over banditry in Zamfara

The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed Dauda Lawal’s election as the elected governor of Zamfara State.

The Supreme Court overturned the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal’s decision on November 16, 2023, declaring the March 18 governorship election in the state inconclusive.
It held that Lawal, the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, received the majority of legitimate votes and was correctly declared the victor of the gubernatorial contest by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Supreme Court branded the appellate court’s verdict as “perverse” in its lead judgment, delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim.

It upheld the previous ruling of the Zamfara State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which confirmed Lawal’s election victory.

It should be noted that INEC said that Lawal of the PDP received 377,726 votes, defeating the Zamfara state’s immediate past governor and current Minister of State for Defense, Bello Matawalle, who received 311,976 votes.

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The pronouncement by INEC was made on September 18, 2023, and was upheld by the tribunal, which ruled that Matawalle, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, failed to demonstrate his claim that some polling unit results were excluded by the election body.

The tribunal also determined that Matawalle and his party failed to show their claim that INEC violated electoral regulations during the election, albeit awarding the appellants a cost of N500,000.

However, the appellate court overturned the tribunal’s decision, declaring the Zamfara state governorship election inconclusive.

The appeals court overturned Governor Dauda’s gubernatorial election victory.
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It directed INEC to hold a new election in three local government areas (LGAs) of the state where election results were either not counted or unjustly canceled.

While the appeals court ordered a new poll in the whole Maradun LGA of the state, it also directed INEC to hold polls in select polling units in Birnin-Magaji and Bukyum LGA.

The appellate court determined that the Zamfara State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal incorrectly analyzed the evidence given before it by the parties.

It ruled that INEC behaved incorrectly when it used information collected from its IReV site to compile the final governorship election results.
According to the court, the IReV was created solely for the benefit of the public, not to act as an election result collection platform.
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Furthermore, the appeal court emphasized that, under the margin of lead concept, INEC should not have made a return in the election, given the presence of over 98,904 votes in the three impacted LGAs.

It concluded that the appellant, Matawalle, properly discharged the burden of proof imposed by the law to invalidate Governor Lawal’s declaration as the bona fide winner of the gubernatorial election.

“The first respondent was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes. His return was not in compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act,” the appellate court held.

However, in its decision on Friday, the Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal verdict for being illogical and contrary to the weight of the evidence.

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