Six months after the Zamfara governorship election, the leadership of the North-Western state is now in question as the Appeal Court nullified the election of Governor Dauda Lawal.
Lawal, of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared the winner of the March 18 governorship election. In a shocking victory that dislodged then-incumbent Bello Matawalle of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he polled a total of 377,726 votes.
Matawalle scored 311,976 votes. The PDP candidate, now serving as the Minister of State for Defence, had accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of subverting his victory at the poll by failing to include the results of some ward areas.
But in an earlier ruling on September 18, the Zamfara Election Petitions Tribunal held that the petition was devoid of merit. While upholding Lawal’s victory, the tribunal awarded the N500,000 fine against the petitioners.
An unsatisfied Matawalle, as observers expected, took the matter to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, to challenge the decision of the lower court.
Respite came for Matawalle on Thursday as the three-member panel led by Justice Oyebisi Folayemi, nullified the return of Governor Lawal as the winner of the governorship poll.
Justice Sybil Nwaka who read the lead judgment 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.
The affected council areas out of the 14 in the North-Western are Maradun, Birnin-Magaji, and Bukkuyum.
The court held that it was wrong for INEC to rely on information it obtained from its INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal to collate the final result of the governorship election.