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Yobe North: Senate President Lawan faces fiercest battle in 23 years

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Thursday, further dashed the hopes of Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan as he seeks a return to the National Assembly in 2023.

pressloaded reports that Lawan has been locked up in a battle with Bashir Sheriff Machina in his bid to secure a return ticket to represent Yobe North Senatorial district on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

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Lawan, a former Education Officer, who worked in Yobe State Ministry of Education, made foray into politics in 1999 and got elected first into the House of Representatives to represent Bade/Jakusko Federal Constituency of Yobe State on the platform of opposition All Peoples Party (APP). In 2003, he contested to represent Yobe North Senatorial seat and won and since then, the Professor of Remote Sensing has been winning elections seamlessly, particularly after he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) early 2015.

His attempt to up his political game in 2023, by contesting for presidential primary of the APC has unarguably resulted to the ongoing political battle with another APC chieftain, Bashir Sheriff Machina, with both laying claim to the sole ticket.

Machina is relying on the Yobe North Senatorial primary which was conducted on June 28, a time he said Senator Lawan was contesting for the APC presidential primary, which he lost to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Machina scored 289 votes out of 300 delegates that took part in the primary.

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He argued that the APC primary election was held at the Yobe North Senatorial headquarters and was monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as required by the 2022 amended Electoral Act.

Machina insisted that he won the ticket and urged the Electoral umpire and the All Progressives Congress to recognise him as such.

However, Lawan, who is the President of the ninth Senate, argued that he participated in a repeat primary election to return to the 10th Senate in 2023, a claim that the National Chairman of APC, Abdullahi Adamu and former governor of Nasarawa State corroborated in a media interview.

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While speaking with journalists at the APC National headquarters in the heat of Yobe North ticket claims and counter-claims, Adamu told journalists: “All I know is that Senator Ahmad Lawan contested for APC Yobe North Senatorial primary election and he won.

“Any other negativities and speculations, I don’t have time.”

But, political pundits continue to react on the development with some stressing that Lawan acted against the dictates of the Electoral Amended Act, 2022 with a proviso that “double nomination was not allowed.”

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Documents had emerged amidst the controversies, purporting that Machina had withdrawn from the race.

Reacting to the withdrawal letter, Machina described the letter as fake and urged the Yobe North electorate to ignore and continue to support his ambition.

In a copy of the statement which was obtained by pressloaded in Abuja, he further indicated that the letter was forged by elements who don’t mean well for Yobe North Senatorial district, while insisting that he was in the race to win.

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Part of the letter read: “I was shocked when I discovered that some persons concocted plans to mislead the public, particularly my supporters into believing that I have withdrawn.

“I want to state unequivocally that the purported letter was forged. I did not at any time withdraw nor resign from my party.

“It has been brought to my notice that some unscrupulous elements have forged my withdrawal letter out of mischief and blackmail.”

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He further faulted the letter, saying that there were discrepancies in dates by the desperate author, noting that the author lacked sufficient administrative knowledge.

He called on the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu to speak on the “forged letter”.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I have not resigned nor withdrawn my candidature, I am in APC and have no intention to move to any party. I will (insha Allah) pursue my senatorial ambition on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.

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“I have already instructed my lawyers to review the fake letter and take necessary legal actions against the culprit(s),” he said.

Speaking with a Chieftain of Yobe APC Chieftain, Alhaji Mustapha Abdullahi on Thursday in Abuja, he lamented that the political intrigues rocking Yobe North may snowball into losing the election, if not well handled.

He toldpressloaded that neither Bashir Sheriff Machina’s name nor that of Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan was captured as the APC Yobe North candidate, a development he said, was being utilized by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party ((PDP).

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“My apprehension is that nobody’s name has been reflected as the authentic APC candidate for APC Yobe North Senatorial seat. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party is already utilizing this and if care is not taken, APC will lose

“Secondly, the political campaign will start later this month, who is the APC going to campaign for?

“Well the case is pending in Court, let’s wait for the outcome”, he said.

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Amid the confusion, however, INEC on Thursday issued a statement declaring its stand that it would abide by its team’s report on the primary election for the Yobe North.

A statement which was signed and made available to journalists by the

National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye, said the attention of INEC had been drawn to affidavits and counter affidavits laying claim to APC Yobe North.

The statement said: “The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to a counter affidavit purportedly filed in the Federal High Court, Damaturu Judicial Division relating to the Yobe North Senatorial District primary election.

“Notwithstanding the matter in Court and without prejudice to the consideration or likely outcome of the case in court, the Commission reiterates its earlier position that it stands by the report of its monitoring team and it was on the basis of that report that the Commission did not publish the name and personal particulars of any candidate for the Yobe North Senatorial District.

“Consequently, the Commission will review its quality assurance protocols, including the preview by appropriate ranking Officials of all processes filed on its behalf to ascertain their correctness in all material particulars with all reports and all information at its disposal before their presentation so that a situation like this is not repeated.

“The Commission has also instructed the external counsel briefed to handle this matter to reflect the correct position, which aligns with the report submitted by our Monitoring Team.”

With this development, analysts believe that Lawan is now facing an uphill task and would need judiciary intervention to make a headway.

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