Lawan Vs Machina: Supreme Court Judgement Sparks Controversies

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The Supreme Court on Monday restored the Senate President, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan as the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for Yobe North Senatorial District.

In a split judgement of three to two, the apex court affirmed Lawan as the authentic Senatorial candidate of the APC in Yobe North Senatorial district.

The apex court, in the majority judgement, voided and set aside the decisions of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, which had affirmed Bashir Sheriff Machina as the APC candidate, having won the party’s primary election held on May 28, 2022.

Justice Centus Chima Nweze, who delivered the majority judgement of the Apex Court, held that Machina ought to have commenced his case at the Federal High Court with a writ of summons given the grievous allegations in his suit against the defendants.

However, Justices Adamu Jauro and Emmanuel Akomaye Agim disagreed with the majority judgement.

They held that the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal were correct in their findings, which affirmed Machina as the authentic candidate.

The two Justices held that Machina was lawfully nominated because the primary election of May 28, 2022, which produced him, was lawfully conducted in line with the provisions of the law.

Justices Jauro and Agim further insisted that APC conducted an unlawful primary election as the May 28 primary election was not cancelled before June 9, 2022, which purportedly produced Lawan, describing it as illegal and a breach of section 285 of the 1999 Constitution.

Lawan hails judgement as victory for democracy.

Reacting to the judgement, Lawan said the decision was a victory for the APC in Yobe, the entire country and democracy. His statement was contained in a post via his verified Twitter handle.

He said, “The Supreme Court Judgement of today on the disputed All Progressives Congress (APC) Yobe North Senatorial ticket in the February 25 National Assembly is a victory for all APC in Yobe, generally for APC across the country and democracy.

“What happened was democracy at work. The lower courts gave their various judgements, and the Supreme Court gave the final judgement.

“I want to commend the Supreme Court and, in fact, the judiciary for delivering this kind of judgement to strengthen our democracy.”

Lawan’s Supreme Court victory, daylight robbery – Machina

However, Nura Audu, a Deputy Campaign Coordinator, Yobe North Zone, for the Bashir Machina campaign team, described the judgement as devastating to anyone committed to justice and fairness.

Audu, a staunch supporter of Machina, also said the judgement was unprecedented and unfortunate in the political history of Nigeria.

“The Supreme Court judgement was a daylight robbery and very unfortunate in the political history of Nigeria.

“Ahmed Lawan neither obtained and filled the Senatorial aspiration form nor contested in the primaries,” he told newsmen.

Other reactions

Meanwhile, in a terse statement via his Twitter handle, former Nigerian lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani noted that the forces against fair elections in the country were not giving up anytime soon.

“It’s glaring that the forces against fair elections are unrelenting. We must all be vigilant for democracy if we really want this election to be credible,” he tweeted.

Speaking to DAILY POST, a renowned scholar and Director of the Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, Dr Sam Amadi expressed surprise at the decision of the Supreme Court.

Amadi said it would undermine the growth of political parties and further damage participation in politics.

He further argued that the judgement has implications for the nation’s democracy as it would further judicialize politics and create a situation where it looks like it is judges who determine who rules, not the electorates.

”I am surprised at the decision by the Supreme Court but will reserve my full comments until I read through the judgement. But I am worried that the decision seems to have nullified the most important innovation of the new electoral law, which is to make party primaries more democratic.

“The decision seems to suggest that whoever the party leader wants, they can impose as a candidate whether the person won primaries or not.

”Basically, there is no need to be scrupulous about managing free and fair primaries. Just manage the party leaders, and you get what you want. This will undermine the growth of political parties and further damage participation in politics. I also read that the Supreme Court also based the decision on the technicality of the mode of originating the suit. It is very tragic that such a far-reaching decision is made for mere technicality.

”The implication of the judgement for democracy is that it further judicializes politics and creates a situation where it looks like it is unelected judges who determine who rules, not the electorates. It builds on the decisions in the Amaechi, Uzodinma and Akpabio cases to create a high sense of frustration about the prospect of democracy consolidation,” Amadi said.

Also speaking to DAILY POST, the President of the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), Olu Omotayo, faulted the judgement.

Omotayo said it might affect transparency in the conduct of party primaries, noting that it is not going to contribute to the development of party politics in Nigeria.

He expressed worry that anybody could wake up, put his name on the list, and submit it to INEC.

”When you look at the judgement, you can see that not all the justices in the five-man panel agreed; they did not agree on a point. It was three against two. I feel that the position of the minority led by Justice Adamu should have been the position because the decision by the majority led by Justice Nweze is based on technicality.

”The Supreme Court sacrificed substantial justice for technicality because, at the lower Court, it was glaring that somebody did not contest the primary; there was no dispute that Lawan did not contest that primary; he was busy contesting for the presidential primaries, which he lost. He was not part of that primary. The primary was conducted. APC thereafter went and conducted another primary, which INEC did not supervise.

“When you look at the fact, it was very glaring. The Supreme Court said he was supposed to commence it with a writ of summon where they will call in witnesses and give evidence.

“It is just based on mere technicality. It is not good for our democracy. This is a developing democracy. If you want people to believe in democracy, you must be able to carry the people along. So it is not just making the law or following technicalities, but you must be able to do substantial justice so that people can have confidence in the system,” he said.

Omotayo, a legal luminary, also feared there would be no true democracy regarding party politics, saying people would lose interest.

”The implication of the lead judgement is that it affects transparency in the party primary election. This other decision is not going to contribute to the development of party politics in Nigeria. It means anybody can just wake up, put his name on the list, and submit it to INEC.

“It will definitely affect party politics; there will be no proper democracy when it comes to party politics. People will lose interest.

”It will also affect the confidence of the people in the democratic system because when you look at the minority judgement, these are learned justices also; they were of the view that what APC did was contrary to the Electoral Act, somebody that did not partake in the election you are submitting his name to the INEC.

”When you are talking about democracy, it is from the party. You practise democracy from the party. So where people vote, waste time, conduct primaries, and people vote for somebody, and you now say that it is someone that did not even contest the election that will represent the people, there is no justifiable reason whatsoever to make such a decision.

“I align myself with the sound reasoning of the two Justices of the Supreme Court who said no, this is not proper. So it is not a proper decision,” he said.

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