By Muhammad Mubeen
The ongoing crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara State seems to be deepening as five more members of the party serving at the House of Representatives are on the verge of losing their nominations.
This development is coming few days after a Federal High Court in Abuja nullified the nomination of another PDP House of Representatives member, Sani Umar Dan Galadima, as the candidate of the PDP for Kaura Namoda/Birnin Magaji Federal Constituency of Zamfara State, for 2023 elections.
The court, presided over by Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo, sacked Dan Galadima on the account of being a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the time he stood for the primary election in PDP.
Justice Ekwo nullified the victory of the lawmaker at the PDP primary election while delivering judgment in a suit instituted against him by two chieftains of PDP, Muzammil Mohammed Idris and Ibrahim Sani.
Justice Ekwo held that the lawmaker, having not resigned, defected or cross-carpeted from APC to PDP within the time stipulated by law, was not a lawful member of PDP and cannot stand for any election on its platform.
The judge invoked section 221 of the 1999 Constitution, section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 and Article 50 (4) of the PDP to nullify the primary election of the PDP that produced him.
Defendants in the suit are Mr Dan Galadima, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Peoples Democratic Party PDP and Dr Iyorchia Ayu.
The court held that from the point of law, the lawmaker ought to have relinquished his APC membership 30 days before the primary election of the PDP before he could qualify as a valid candidate for PDP.
While the opposition party is regurgitating the pain of this court hammer and that of its governorship candidate Mr Dauda Lawan Dare – whose two primary elections were nullified by the Federal High Court in Gusau and its landmark judgement (of PDP being barred from the 2023 governorship election in Zamfara) upheld by Court of Appeal in Sokoto- the dissonance that permeated the PDP’s ecosystem is better imagined than experienced.
Mr Dan Galadima is not the last PDP lawmaker whose ambition of contesting reelection was jeopardized and shattered. His five other co-travelers and incumbent House of Representatives members, notably Kabiru Amadu Mai Palace (Gusau/Tsafe Federal Constituency), Shehu Ahmed (Bungudu/Maru), Engr Sulaiman Abubakar Gummi (Gummi/Bukkuyum Federal Constituency), Ahmed Muhammad Bakura, representing Bakura Maradun Federal Constituency and Bello Moriki (Shinkafi /Zurmi Federal Constituency) are now faced with similar fate.
Mr Shehu Ahmed had officially announced his defection from PDP to APC in a letter dated 15 July 2021, and addressed to House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. The letter was read by Speaker Gbajabiamila at the plenary.
On the other hand, Messrs Shinkafi, Bakura, Mai Palace and Gummi had officially communicated their defections from PDP to APC through a letter dated 16 July 2021 and read by Speaker Gbajabiamila at the plenary.
As fate would have it, the lawmakers were caught off guard when they refused to officially defect back to PDP after they failed to clinch the APC tickets to retain their seats.
Instead, they rushed back to the PDP – the party they publicly announced they have defected from – and grabbed its tickets for their various constituencies. As it turned out now and as ruled by learned Justice Ekwo in the Dan Galadima’s case, the political future of these fair weather lawmakers, is not only bleak but it had hit a rock. They seem to have arrived at their political Waterloo.
Coincidentally, the Zamfara PDP is currently before a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking for the nulification of Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle’s election along with all those who defected with him from PDP to APC, on ground they were elected on the platform of the PDP.
The crisis rocking Zamfara PDP is the handiwork of its members whose only stock in trade is bypassing regulations and laws for selfish reasons. It is time to realize that the Electoral Act 2023 and the courts are readily available to safeguard and protect the sanctity of our democracy, rule of law and respect for electorate choice.
As it stands now, the PDP crisis in Zamfara State is taking its toll on all the PDP federal lawmakers.
Mr Mubeen writes from Gusau, Zamfara State.