In a significant development, the Court of Appeal in Abuja has declared the governorship election held in Zamfara State on March 18 as inconclusive. The unanimous decision was reached by a three-member panel led by Justice Oyebisi Folayemi, which nullified the return of Governor Dauda Lawal, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the winner of the election.
Justice Sybil Nwaka, who delivered the lead judgement on Thursday, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize a fresh election in three Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state. This directive applies to areas where elections had not been conducted previously or where the results from certain polling units were not counted. The affected LGAs are Maradun, Birnin-Magaji, and Bukkuyum.
The court emphasized that INEC was wrong to rely solely on information obtained from its INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal for the collation of the final result of the governorship election. This ruling came as a result of an appeal brought before the court by the immediate past governor of the state, Bello Matawalle, who contested the election as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It is noteworthy that Bello Matawalle was later appointed by President Bola Tinubu as the Minister of State for Defence, adding another layer of significance to the case. This decision has reshaped the political landscape in Zamfara State and will necessitate a fresh round of campaigning and voting in the affected LGAs.
With the court’s ruling, the integrity and fairness of the electoral process have been reaffirmed, underscoring the importance of conducting free, fair, and transparent elections. The call for a fresh election in specific areas demonstrates the commitment of the judiciary to uphold the democratic principles enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.