The Court of Appeal Sitting in Abuja has declared the March 18, 2023 Zamfara State governorship election inconclusive.
The Independent Electoral Commission had declared Dauda Lawal of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the election, defeating the incumbent governor Bello Matawalle of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Matawalle, however, challenged the outcome of the poll at the tribunal but his petition was dismissed for lacking in merit.
Displeased with the tribunal’s judgment, he approached the Court of Appeal.
Delivering the judgment on Thursday, the appellate court held that Matawalle, who is now the Minister of State for Defence, successfully proved that Dauda was not duly elected.
The appellate court held that the tribunal failed to properly evaluate the evidence brought before it and that the appellants placed credible evidence before the tribunal.
The court also held that the INEC Results Viewing Portal could not be used for collation of results as done by the tribunal, saying IREV was only meant to view results.
Reading the lead judgment, Justice Sybil Nwaka ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas of the state, where elections had not been held previously or where results from various polling units were not counted.
She said, “This appeal is hereby allowed. The March 2023 Governorship election held in Zamfara State is inconclusive.INEC is hereby directed to hold fresh elections in Birnin Magaji, Bukun Yum LGA, and Maradun local government areas.”
Reacting, the Zamfara APC hailed the judgment in a statement by its secretary, Yusuf Idris.
Idris said, “With today’s declaration by the Court of Appeal, we are optimistic that very soon, the people’s Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle will be back to his rightful position as the executive Governor of Zamfara State.
“The ruling was a clear testimony of our strong belief in God’s choice to give power or take it as He wills. We are also appreciative of the judiciary for painstakingly carrying out a job well done.
“To our opponents, we say God’s time is always the best, and we promise to continue to champion the cause of peace, harmony and development of Zamfara State to greatness.”
Also reacting, the spokesperson for the Zamfara PDP, Buhari Maijega, has expressed optimism that Lawal would still win.
Maijega said, “You see, Governor Dauda Lawal has an advantage over former governor Bello Mattawalle for many reasons.
“Firstly, he has about 65, 000 votes ahead of Matawalle. Secondly, he will still win more votes in the return election and eventually be declared winner. Thirdly, he has the the right to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the appeal court’s decision. So, I don’t see any hope for the former governor to come back.
“I also want the APC members and supporters to understand that the rerun election will be conducted in just few poling units of Maradun, Bukkuyum and Birnin Magaji local government areas.
“So, even if the PPD did not go out to campaign, I am very optimistic that Dr Dauda Lawal will still get additional votes in those three local governments and will eventually defeat his opponent, Bello Mattawalle.”