By Chris Udochukwu
September 28 has been fixed by a Federal High Court sitting in Damaturu, Yobe State as the date for judgement in a suit filed by Bashir Machina, the winner of the All Progressives Congress’ senatorial primary election for Yobe North.
The suit filed by Machina against the APC, Independent National Electoral Commission and the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan regards the primary election held on May 28, 2022.
Justice Fadima Aminu had reserved judgement on the tussle regarding the senatorial ticket after a heated argument between counsels to the plaintiff and the defendants.
Machina is asking the court to declare him as the authentic senatorial candidate of the APC for the 2023 election.
With the new development, his fate will be determined on Wednesday by the court.
Lawan is currently locked in battle with Machina for the ticket.
Recall that Machina emerged the winner of the primary election supervised by INEC officials. The senate president did not participate in the primary election.
At the time the exercise was held, Lawan was pursuing his presidential ambition but lost to former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu.
Rather than submit the name of the elected candidate, the name of the senate president was submitted to the commission by the ruling APC, a move that led to the deliberate omission of their names from the published particulars of candidates in late June.
To clarify the brewing controversy around the seat, INEC, on at least two occasions, said it rejected the senate president’s name because he had not been validly nominated for the senatorial seat.
The commission, however, urged the duo to resolve their issues internally or seek redress in court.
Machina, however, since filed a suit before a Federal High Court, Damaturu to challenge the APC National Working Committee’s decision.
He is contending that efforts to replace his name with Lawan’s, who did not participate in the primary of the APC, was a breach of Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Article 21.3 of the APC Constitution and Paragraphs 20 (c), 27 (c), (d) and (f) of the APC Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2023 General Elections, the suit is not premature, and Section 223 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
SaharaReporters earlier reported that when the case came up on Monday, September 12, Justice Aminu reserved judgement on the pre-election case, saying a judgement date would be communicated to the parties involved in the suit.
The court decided after listening to the arguments of both the defendants’ counsel and the plaintiff’s counsel.
Counsel for Senator Lawan, Ahmed Raji, (SAN) during an interview shortly after the adjournment, said his client prayed the court to strike out the case because it was filed out of time.
“Our objection is to the fact that the matter is statute-barred because it was not filed within 14 days stipulated by the constitution,” he said.
Explaining his position, Ibrahim Bawa (SAN), counsel for Machina said his client was just requesting the court to compel INEC and APC to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act by declaring his client as the authentic winner of the May 28, 2022 election.
“If I don’t have a good case, I don’t come to court and I believe this is another good case that I have and I am confident that the judgement will be in my favour,” he said.
In the originating summons dated September 2 and filed by APC with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1555/2022, the party is seeking an order directing INEC to publish the name and particulars of Lawan as the APC candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District in the 2023 general elections.
The court document read in part, “An order directing the Defendant to publish the name and particulars of Ibrahim Ahmad Lawan as the candidate of the Plaintiff for Yobe North Senatorial District in the 2023 General Elections as nominated and submitted by the Plaintiff to the Defendant.”