By Gowon Emakpe, Abuja
Barely one year as Governor on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle, may have concluded plans to defect to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), investigation conducted by DAILY ASSET has revealed.
Matawalle was returned winner in the 2019 governorship polls and sworn-in after the Supreme Court voided the victory of the APC on the ground that the party did not conduct a valid primary to nominate its governorship candidate.
Aware of the support he received from from some APC stalwarts in the state in the courtroom battles that culminated to his victory, Matawalle on assumption of office opted to form an “all inclusive government.”
Under the power sharing arrangement, the governor allegedly allotted five cabinet positions and other strategic offices to Senator Kabir Marafa and a former Governor of the state, Senator Sani Yerima, both of who are chieftains of the APC.
The Governor appointed 19 Commissioners and 28 Special Advisers out of which about 50 per cent were member of the APC.
One of the Commissioners appointed from the APC is Alhaji Abubakar Abdullahi Tsafe, the state’s Commissioner for Rural Development and Cooperatives.
The other Commissioners include Sulaiman Tunau, Aminu Sulaiman, Abdulkadir Gora, Jinaidu Muhammad, Muhammad Maiturare, Zainab Gummi, Jamilu Aliyu, Nura Isah and Rabiu Garba.
Others included Sufyanu Yuguda, Ibrahim Magayaki, Yahaya Gora, Yahaya Kanoma, Tukur Jangebe, Ibrahim Mayana, Abubakar Tsafe, Nura Zarumi, Bilyaminu Shinkafi and Abubakar Muhammad.
The two APC Chieftains (Marafa and Yerima) were among the party leaders, who stoutly opposed the plan of Matawalle’s predecessor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari to field his preferred choice as the governorship candidate of the APC.
It was learnt that since assumption of office, both Marafa and Yerima have piled pressure on Matawalle to join them in APC so as to guarantee their support for his re-election bid in 2023.
Besides, Yerima, who is said to be preparing grounds to run for the presidency is said to be working towards having the Governor in the APC to consolidate his local support base ahead of the forth coming presidential race.
As a prelude to his imminent defection, Matawalle recently wooed 10 Local Government Council Chairmen elected on the platform of APC to defect to Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). The Council Chairmen were loyalists of immediate past governor, Yari.
DAILY ASSET had reported exclusively that the governor splashed nearly N1billion on the Council Chairmen as logistics to plan their defection rallies together with their Deputies, Councillors, Supervisors and other supporters.
Each of the Council Chairmen allegedly got about N35million equivalent in US Dollars and a Toyota Prado vehicle out of the money, while Deputy Chairmen and Councillors also got various sums of money as logistics to brief their supporters and mobilise them towards defection.
A source close to the happenings disclosed that all the new members would eventually follow Matawalle to defect to the APC at the right time, to publicly demonstrate that they were loyal to the Governor.
The source said all arrangements had been concluded for the defection to hold before May 29, the first anniversary of the Governor in office, but for the leadership crisis currently rocking the APC at the national level.
The source hinted that a date would be fixed for the grand defection ceremony in Gusau, the state capital as soon as the leadership crisis in the National secretariat was resolved.
“I can confirm to you that the Governor will soon dump the PDP. This is politics. And he has his freedom to decide his future,” the source, who preferred to be anonymous told DAILY ASSET.
Already, the Governor’s imminent political move has become a subject of open discussion in the state’s political circles.
Recently, one of his Commissioners, Alhaji Abubakar Abdullahi Tsafe, openly called on the governor to leave the PDP. Tsafe who addressed a gathering of APC faithful in Tsafe Local Government Area, argued that governor Mattawalle stood better opportunity to consolidate on his achievements in the state, if he joined the APC.
Similarly, Senator Yerima was recently quoted to have said that it was a matter of time before the governor left the PDP.
“We are working and we are talking. Every politician tries to get more people to their party especially governors. If I can have governors with me, the party will be better off. I think we have gone very far with the process of his decamping. He will decamp very soon,” Yerima was quoted in the social media to have said.
…Supreme Court Reserves Review Judgment Indefinitely
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has reserved judgment in the request by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the review and setting aside of the consequential order of the court that made the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) beneficiary of all elective positions in the 2019 general election in Zamfara State.
A five man panel of the court headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad Tanko, announced that the decision of the apex court in the matter had been reserved to a date that would be communicated to parties shortly after lawyers representing parties in the matter adopted their brief of arguments.
Arguing the application for setting aside of the consequential order that barred its clients from the 2019 general election Chief Robert Clarke SAN, informed the panel that the order was made out of jurisdiction by Supreme Court.
According to him the APC, which brought the application challenging the consequential order was not against the main judgment because the party did not conduct primary election for nomination of candidates for the 2019 general election.
He admitted bringing the application for the second time insisted that what the Supreme Court ought to have done was to order f a primary election and election for all elective positions in the state.
Stressing that the consequential order, which made the PDP candidates winners of all elective offices was in bad taste and ought to be reversed.
Clarke further submitted that it was wrong of the apex court to have declared over 400, 000 votes cast for APC as wasted simply because APC at the time did not conduct primary election known to law because of its internal dispute.
Specifically, he urged the court to invoke its inherent jurisdiction to set aside the consequential order that brought PDP’s candidates to power in Zamfara State and instead should order APC to conduct a primary election and to also order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct new election into all elective offices in Zamfara State.
However, Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, who is the first respondent in the matter, urged the apex court to dismiss the request of the APC for want of jurisdiction and merit.
Marafa through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, informed the panel that the APC’s application was caught by section 285 of the 1999 Constitution which prescribed 60 days for hearing and determination starting from the date the notice of appeal was filed.
Ozekhome argued that the apex court gave final judgment in the Zamfara governorship tussle over 10 months ago, adding that bringing such application for the second time was a gross abuse of the process of the apex court.
The senior lawyer urged the court to dismiss the application with huge punitive fine to keep the party away from further abuse of court process.
Ozekhome cited the decision of the court in the Bayelsa and Imo States governorship tussles adding that the apex court has made it clear that its judgment on any issue is final for all times, ages and that no force on earth can change the decision except a law made to that effect.
The CJN after taken submissions from counsel, said ruling has been reserved to a date to be communicated to parties
In the fresh application by a faction of the APC led by a former governor of the state , Aldulaziz Yari.
The Applicants argued that the order of Court granted in favour of the PDP and its candidates, was extraneous to issues that aggrieved members of the APC brought before it for adjudication.
Counsel to the Applicants, Clarke, SAN, said his clients are challenging the verdict of the apex court on the basis of its consequential orders that handed victory to candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, which he said rendered the entire judgement a nullity.
However, Ozekhome, SAN, who appeared for the Senator Kabiru Marafa-led faction of the APC in Zamfara state, told the apex court that he filed a preliminary objection to challenge the competence of the fresh application.