Following months of rigorous and extensive fireworks, the Supreme Court on Monday eventually affirmed the incumbent Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, as the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for Yobe North senatorial district.
In a majority judgment delivered on Monday by the apex court, it allowed the appeal filed by the APC against Bashir Machina’s candidature.
Delivering the judgment, three out of the five-member panel agreed with the position of the APC that the suit at the trial court ought not to have commenced via an originating summons, since it contained allegations of fraud.
In the lead judgement, Justice Centus Nweze faulted the approach of Machina in commencing the suit at the Federal High Court, Damaturu division, by way of originating summons and without oral evidence to prove allegations of fraud.
Nweze said, “The bedrock of the suit shows that there were allegations of fraudulent practices against the appellants.
“That the 1st respondent accused the APC of fraudulently substituting his name with that of Lawan.
“Where there is an allegation of fraud, it should not be commenced by an originating summons.
“There was a need to call witnesses to prove allegations of fraud.”
A Federal High Court, sitting in Damaturu, Yobe State, had earlier, affirmed Machina as the authentic candidate of the APC for Yobe North senatorial district in the 2023 elections.
Machina had won unopposed during the senatorial primary organised by the party in May 2022.
But the Senate President was said to have participated in another primary organised by the APC, after he contested the presidential ticket unsuccessfully in June.
Machina was reportedly asked to step down for Lawan, but he insisted that he is the rightful candidate.
In the midst of the ensuing controversy, the APC submitted name of the Senate President to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as its candidate for Yobe North.
But the electoral commission subsequently refused to list any candidate for the APC for the district.
Aggrieved, Machina instituted a suit asking the court to declare him as the authentic senatorial candidate of the APC for Yobe North.
In September 2022, a Federal High Court, sitting in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, ordered the APC and INEC to recognise Machina as the candidate.
A month later, an Abuja division Court of Appeal affirmed Machina’s election as the candidate of the APC for the Yobe North senatorial district.
Dissatisfied, the APC appealed the appellate court’s judgment.
Recall that the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, had earlier won similar cases at the Supreme Court, despite participating in the APC presidential primary.