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Yobe North: Anxiety as Lawan, APC await Machina’s Next Move

Yobe North: Anxiety as Lawan, APC await Machina’s Next Move

The winner of the primary election conducted by the ruling All Progressives Congress in  Yobe North Senatorial District, Bashir Machina, has vowed to contest the substitution of his name with that of the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, who, he maintained, did not participate in the poll. Sunday Aborisade examines the implications of Machina’s planned action and how it would affect the chances of Lawan’s return to the 10th Senate.

It is a known fact that Senate President,  Ahmad Lawan, actively participated in the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Primary election but lost to the flagbearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

At about the same time, a member of the APC in the Yobe North Senatorial District, Bashir Machina, contested the primary in the constituency and won.

After Lawan lost the attempt to make him the consensus presidential candidate of the APC and invariably humbled by Tinubu at the primary convention, the Senator who has been hibernating in the National Assembly since 1999, decided to return to the 10th Senate despite the fact that he did not take part in the Yobe North Senatorial District primary that produced Machina.

While Machina was expecting the publication of his name on the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Senator AbdullahiAdamu-led APC national executive, forwarded Lawan’s name to  INEC as the candidate of the party for Yobe North.

Last Thursday, the APC wrote the INEC, informing the electoral body that Lawan, who is the Senate President since June, 2019, will be its nominee for the district.

The National Chairman of the party had also granted an interview confirming that Lawan actually participated in the Yobe North Senatorial District and emerged victorious.

However, Machina who contested the primary in Yobe North senatorial district and won, had vowed to go to court to challenge the alleged attempt to steal his mandate following INEC’s recognition of Lawan as the candidate of the APC for the  Senatorial district.

He wondered why Lawan’s name instead of his own, was uploaded on the commission’s server alongside other senatorial candidates across the country.

Machina, who spoke with newsmen in Abuja at the weekend, pleaded with the APC to correct the anomaly because he would have no option than to seek legal redress if his name remained substituted with that of Lawan. He insisted that he was the validly elected candidate, and that he had not withdrawn for any other person.

Machina vowed not to withdraw because the mandate was freely given to him by party members and the delegates.

The politician said he decided to address the issue because an abnormality and illegality was about to take place in the ruling party.

He said, “In the list sent to INEC, my name was found to be misrepresented. I don’t know whether it was erroneous, my name was not in the list of the names that was said to be presented  to INEC.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I remain the candidate duly elected for APC Yobe North zone C senatorial zone.

“I am the elected candidate; I did not withdraw for anybody and will not withdraw because as a matter of right that is the mandate given to me by members of our great party, the delegates.

“So, surreptitiously removing my name, I consider, is very undemocratic, illegal and of course inhuman.

“Insha Allah, I will take measures, first by reminding and appealing to my party that if this action is truly done, it should be corrected, especially if it is erroneously done.

“We are actually seeking for redress from the National Working Committee of our party under the able leadership of Senator AbdullahiAdamu, the national chairman, that there is an anomaly and we need it to be corrected.

“I remain the candidate and it remains so. I hope our leadership will take the necessary measures. We will work hard to exploit and explore all the necessary channels as provided by our guideline.

“In the event of the contrary, as Nigerian citizens and as law abiding citizens, the constitution of our country being the overall law above every aspect of our lives as Nigerians, I would have no choice but to resort to court (legal) action.

“This is what I intend to inform Nigerians through this medium, that an abnormality and illegality is about taking place, and it is undemocratic.

“This is a democratic party. It is always the will of the people that is supreme and the greatest justification of the will of the people is by casting their votes, as they did to elect me.

“This is a confidence reposed in me by the electorate in my senatorial district and this is the most minimal challenge I will face to defend their right.”

INEC has, however, explained the only way the Senate President could return to the Senate in 2023.

According to the electoral umpire, Lawan or any individual in his position is left at the mercy of the candidates who have been legally and constitutionally nominated by their political parties.

INEC’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, gave the clarification when he appeared on Arise TV this week.

He nevertheless, explained that he had yet to see the names of candidates submitted by political parties, despite the fact that media reports indicated that APC Yobe North Senatorial District has replaced the name of Machina with that of Lawan.

Okoye further assured Nigerians  that the Commission monitored and had the reports of all the Senatorial and House of Representatives primaries.

He noted that properly nominated candidates, whose nominations were being challenged must write to INEC with a sworn affidavit, asking for a fresh primary, which would be conducted within 14 days before a replacement can be made.

The INEC Commissioner then advised Machina and others whose mandates have been taken from them to approach a well-constituted court of law to seek redress since INEC already has the reports from the primaries.

Okoye said: “I completely agree with you that someone who has not contested party’s primary should not be in a position to be nominated as party’s candidate.

“But now, the Independent National Electoral Commission is not in a position as at now to make a determination in relation to what you’re saying or to make a determination in relation to whose name was submitted by a political party.

“The Commission monitored the primaries of different political parties. Their senatorial and House of Representatives primaries and we have our reports.

“Moreover, what the law provides is that at the end of the nomination process, if any of the candidates that have been properly and constitutional nominated withdraws in writing and sworn affidavit that the ‘political party that nominated me must and shall conduct fresh primaries within the period of 14 days and then make such replacement.’

“Then the person must do this through a letter submitted to the political party that nominated him with an affidavit indicating that he or she has voluntarily withdrawn. So that is the state of the law as at today.”

Machina could not be reached as of the time of filing this report to confirm or deny rumours that he had already, had an agreement with Lawan to surrender his mandate.

Commenting on the issue, an Abuja based lawyer, MessrsKayodeAjulo, emphasised that only Machina could challenge the nomination of Lawan in court based on the provisions of the new Electoral Act.

He said, “The moment,  Machina failed to approach the Court within 14 days of the publication of Lawan’s name on the website of INEC, the electoral umpire would have no choice but to present the Senate President’s name as the Yobe North Senatorial District candidate.”

Also reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party Legal Adviser in Kwara State, Mr. Michael Aborisade, however, said Lawan and the APC still had another critical legal hurdle to cross even if they convinced Machina to willingly surrender his mandate.

The legal practitioner told THISDAY that candidates of other political parties also have the right to challenge the nomination of a total stranger on the  INEC list as their fellow contestants.

According to him: “Even if the APC and Lawan are able to pacify Machina to drop his mandate, I will encourage the PDP candidate in the Yobe North Senatorial District to approach the Court to challenge the illegal smuggling of a total stranger by the APC in the list published by INEC.

“The law did not stipulate that only the aspirants of the affected political party could challenge an improper nomination of a candidate, stakeholders from other parties who are also participating in the election could also take the same legal action.”

Many experts in the legal profession, political science as well as other interested parties in the case are keenly watching the events as they unfold, and expecting what would happen within the 14 days window open for Machina and other political parties’ candidates to seek legal redress.

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