With the Court of Appeal expected to deliver judgements on Kano and Plateau states gubernatorial election disputes before the end of the week, residents and political gladiators are gearing up for what the outcome will be.…CONTINUE READING
Recall that Kano State Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) was sacked by the election petitions tribunal, which ordered Nasir Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be sworn in instead, prompting Yusuf to approach the Court of Appeal for redress.
And while the tribunal had upheld the elections of Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwang of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the sacking of all lawmakers elected on his party’s platform by the appellate court further heightened tension in the state over whether or not the governor would survive the tsunami.
Historically, the two states have been two of the most volatile in the country, with recurring ethnic, religious and political crises leading to the loss of thousands of lives and property.
Worried about how political supporters might react to the judgement of the appellate court, the police in Kano have already raised the security level in the state with the deployment of more personnel to strategic places in the state metropolis.
The police have also banned political gatherings and raised the alarm about suspected “preparation for violent processions, protests, or celebrations that may trigger reactions”.
The state police commissioner, Usaini Gumel, who assured residents of adequate security before and after the judgement, advised residents against unguarded statements or engaging in violent protests or celebrations that may ignite reactions in the commercial city.
Residents of the two states told Daily Trust that, despite the fact that the judgements would be delivered in Abuja, not knowing the exact day has placed them in strung-up conditions.
“You know, if the date was clear by now, we would have made adequate plans to stay indoors. But I know for certain that even if my children have gone to school on the day the judgement will be delivered, I will rush there and bring them back home. I don’t trust these politicians and their supporters. You know how desperate they can be,” a father of three in Kano, who asked not to be named, said.
Why the situation is tense in Plateau, Kano
Unlike other states, where one or two lawmakers of a political party were sacked by the appellate court, all seven PDP lawmakers in the National Assembly from Plateau State were dismissed by the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja.
Five members of the House of Representatives and two senators of the PDP lost their seats at the court of appeals. They were all sacked on the same ground of lack of party structure following what the court described as “refusal of the PDP to conduct congresses from ward to state levels in the LGAs of the state, as ordered by Justice S. P. Gang of a Jos High Court, who earlier nullified the PDP Congress in 2021.”
The appellate court, in its previous decisions that saw the end of all the PDP lawmakers in the National Assembly from the state, ruled that all those who contested elections on the platform of the PDP were independent candidates, which, according to the court, is alien to the Nigerian constitution.
But the PDP had repeatedly told the various courts that it complied with the earlier court order by the Jos High Court and repeated the congress, emphasising that the issue of nomination and qualification of candidates is purely a party affair and therefore all the lawmakers elected on its platform were duly elected.
This development, which is feared may affect the governor’s chances too, led to a series of protests in the state. Protesters stormed major streets in Jos, the state capital, last week. They also stormed the Court of Appeal’s building in the state capital, pelting it with stones while others tried to break down the gate.
While the case in Kano is different, supporters of the ruling NNPP have been attempting to draw comparisons with the fate of the PDP in Plateau. Their optimism, on one hand, is hinged on the fact that three federal lawmakers of the party sacked by the tribunal were restored to their seats by the Court of Appeal.
But supporters of the APC believe that the judgement would be different from the one restoring the NNPP lawmakers because the issues and arguments in the governorship petition are different from those involving federal constituencies.
The Chairman of the NNPP in Kano, Hashim Sulaiman Dungurawa, said the party is optimistic that the appeal court will upturn the verdict of the lower court because “all stakeholders in the legal system have faulted the decision.”
Similarly, Hassan Fagge, an aide to the APC governorship candidate, Nasiru Gawuna, said, “Based on the evidence presented before the tribunal and its subsequent judgement, victory is ours by the grace of God at the Court of Appeal.”
In Plateau, Simon Venmak Gomla, the Zonal Chairman of PDP, Plateau South, said he was confident of victory at the appeal court despite the previous judgement against members of his party.
But the Publicity Secretary of the APC, Sylvanus Namang, said for the PDP to think of victory was just self-deception.
“There are so many rulings against the lack of structure in the PDP, including the appeal court judgement, and we don’t think it can reverse itself. For that reason, we are very confident that we are going to get favourable judgement at the appeal court,” he said.
Residents demand peaceful outcome
Meanwhile, residents of the two states have urged the court to be free and fair to all parties, adding that whichever way the judgement came, should be embraced by all and sundry.
Balarabe Tanko Yakasai, a Kano resident and businessman, said both Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf and Nasiru Gawuna are his friends, and he does want to be partisan but only wants the best for Kano that will not lead to unrest.
Sheriff Omotayo Oyewopo, a university lecturer in Jos, called on all parties to respect the decision of the court.
“It is not only when the judgement goes in your favour that it should be respected. Even if it is not in your favour, you should respect it. It is about the interest of the generality of the state,” he said.
On his part, Gad Peter, the Executive Director, Cleen Foundation, appealed to the public to “not take the law into their hands because I believe that one of the reasons people go to court is to avoid taking the law into their hands.”
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