Legal Technicalities Take Center Stage – Supreme Court Delves into IReV and Margin of Lead in Zamfara Case

Zamfara Gubernatorial Election: Supreme Court Affirms Lawal’s Victory, Overturns Appeal Court Ruling

Victory Upheld:

In a dramatic turn of events, the Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the election of Dauda Lawal as Governor of Zamfara State, overturning the November 2023 ruling by the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.

Appeal Court Judgment Rejected:

The Supreme Court deemed the lower court’s decision, calling for a re-run in three Local Government Areas, as “perverse” and lacking sufficient evidence.

Lawal’s Majority Confirmed:

Justice Emmanuel Agim, delivering the lead judgment, upheld the findings of the Zamfara State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and reaffirmed that Lawal received the majority of valid votes and was rightly declared the winner by INEC.

Flashback to Initial Results:

Recalling the original results declared by INEC in March 2023, Lawal (PDP) won with 377,726 votes, defeating Bello Matawalle (APC), the state’s former governor and current Minister of State for Defence, who received 311,976 votes.

Tribunal Upholds INEC Declaration:

In September 2023, the Election Petitions Tribunal dismissed Matawalle’s claims of irregularities and upheld INEC’s declaration of Lawal as the victor.

Appeal Court Orders Re-Run:

Matawalle appealed the Tribunal’s decision, and in November 2023, the Court of Appeal ruled in his favor, calling for fresh elections in parts of three LGAs due to alleged issues with the initial results.

Supreme Court Rejects Re-Run Argument:

The Supreme Court disagreed with the Appeal Court’s reasoning.

It found that Matawalle failed to provide sufficient evidence to support his claims and that INEC acted correctly in declaring Lawal the winner.

IReV Not for Collating Results:

The Supreme Court further criticized the reliance on INEC’s IReV platform for calculating results, stating that it was intended for public information, not official collation.

Margin of Lead Inapplicable:

Additionally, the court rejected the application of the “margin of lead” principle, considering the significant number of votes in the disputed LGAs.

Appeal Court’s Burden of Proof Not Met:

In conclusion, the Supreme Court found that the Appeal Court erred in its judgment and that Matawalle failed to meet the legal burden of proof required to overturn Lawal’s victory.

Supreme Court Upholds Lawal’s Election:

Therefore, the apex court declared that Lawal was duly elected and reinstated his previous declaration as the legitimate Governor of Zamfara State.

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