• Sunday, March 03, 2024
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NNPP, APC at loggerheads over tribunal judgment sacking Kano governor

Mixed reactions as Supreme Court restores NNPP’s Yusuf as Kano governor

There is an uneasy calm in the camps of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kano State over tribunal judgement sacking Governor Abba Yusuf from office.

In recent days after Wednesday’s ruling, chieftains of both parties have been trading words, with the NNPP accusing the tribunal of working to satisfy the interest of the ruling party at the centre.

However, the APC has hailed the ruling, commending the judiciary for standing for the interest of the masses despite overwhelming intimidation from the ruling party in the state.

Yusuf, candidate of the NNPP had defeated Nasir Gawuna APC and was declared the winner of the March 18 election.

But the three-man panel had ordered withdrawal of the certificate of return which, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), presented to Governor Yusuf and directed a certificate of return to be issued to Gawuna.

The court deducted 165,663 votes from Governor Yusuf total as invalid votes, stating that the ballot papers (165,663) were not stamped or signed and therefore declared invalid.

All three grounds of the petition were resolved in favour of APC.

Dipo Olayoku, National Secretary of the NNPP, said parties cannot be blamed for INEC inadequacies, noting that judgement was against the electoral Act and questionable.

According to Olayoku, “We won a majority in the state Assembly and have the highest House of Representatives members and all the senators in Kano.

Read also: Gawuna credits divine will for Kano victory, unfazed by tribunal appeal

“It is only in the governorship election they are alleging over voting, we have to question what they mean by over voting; is it after totalling every vote, putting together APC, NNPP and others that you still have more votes than the total number of votes accredited?

“Those are the questions we are putting forward, because if we are to deduct 165,663 votes because they did not carry INEC signatures, how then do you blame a party for the inadequacies of an empire charged with the responsibilities of conducting election. The electoral Act is clear on the issue.”

But Sanusi Musa, counsel to APC said the APC presented unsigned ballot papers that were allegedly dumped into the ballot boxes, across the local government areas in the state.

“Let me remind him that in 2019 APC won all the seats in the State Assembly and presidential poll, we had a tight fight in the gubernatorial election. We had to go to the supplementary election to win.

“Tribunal ordered that we inspect the ballot papers, certified them and bring the invalid ones, we have gone to 34 out of the 44 local government areas to fish out the ballot papers that were stuffed into the ballot boxes by NNPP and their supporters and we brought them to the tribunal.

“If they had a ballot paper that was in favour of APC, what stops them from bringing it to the tribunal?

“They did not bring any, they only brought one withness and the tribunal asked if the ballot papers are from INEC; do you have any objection to them? But he said no.”

Speaking further, Musa dismissed insinuation that the APC was desperate to take over Kano State, noting that it was the NNPP officials and state government that had threatened problems in the state.

“People are saying APC want to take over Kano by all means that is not the correct situation, we have seen that the Kano State government, the special adviser to the governor of political matters is the one that is threaten to make the state ungovernable, by even bringing what is more than Boko Haram,” Musa stressed.

But Ladipo Johnson, Spokesperson of the NNPP, said that the votes lacking stamps or signatures were presented after the APC had concluded their arguments, preventing the NNPP from thoroughly examining these ballots through cross-examination.

Speaking in an interview with BusinessDay Sunday, Johnson said that the votes without proper stamps or signatures were tendered after the APC had closed their case, leaving the NNPP with no chance to scrutinise those voting papers through cross-examination.

Johnson stated that if there was no stamp or signature on a ballot paper, referencing Section 63 (2) of the Electoral Act, and the presiding officer believes that it originated from the provided packs of ballot papers, it is permitted; hence, the question arises as to why the agents at those polling units did not reject such ballots.

According to the spokesman, “All these things give us healthy and robust grounds for appeal. I wasn’t at the tribunal, but I am very confident that we have proper grounds of appeal, and we will take up those grounds.

“APC’s argument revolved around alleged incidents of over-voting, violence, and other irregularities in more than a thousand polling units, however, they only presented a total of around thirty witnesses, each of whom had to be affiliated with the specific polling unit in question.

He added: “We’re not saying it’s a perfect situation. I don’t know what complaints our own agents put forward, but I think, substantially, it was done properly, it was announced by INEC, and now, I have this gymnastics that came yesterday via zoom.

“For me, I might understand that maybe the judges felt insecure or there were security reports.

“But I have it on good authority and information, that the judges arrived in Kano, and then they were whisked away in a private jet, and then came by zoom the following day.

“So, the people on ground, the average Nigerian, will think there’s something going on.”

Reacting to the judgement, National Chairman of the APC Abdullahi Ganduje, said he was not surprised with the judgement as he already knew what happened during the election.

Ganduje, who is the immediate past governor of the state, thanked the judiciary for standing for the masses.

“I was not surprised because we all have seen what happened during the election. Secondly people have been praying for our party seeking God’s intervention to get back our seat.

“That is a provision of the law; if you are not satisfied you appeal. There is nothing wrong with that. The system of the country provides for appeal. We will meet there and people are praying for us.

“We have no fear, we believe in God, and whoever believes in God will emerge victorious by God’s grace,” he said.

Immediately after the ruling was delivered, there was tension and signs of unrest in some parts of the Kano State, forcing the state Governor to declare a 24 hours curfew in the state.

Reports indicate that the security situation in the state was still tense till yesterday, Saturday.

Meanwhile, some Nigerians who reacted to the judgement in an interview with BusinessDay and on social media expressed divergent views about the judgement.

Some Nigerians expressed lack of confidence in the judiciary; they said recent judgements from the courts in the country have been inconsistent and controversial.

Read also: Kano tribunal sacks Yusuf, declares Gawuna governor

Some people were of the view that the ruling party, APC, was desperate to win Kano State back, knowing how crucial it was towards electoral victory in the country because of its population size.

Others simply dismissed the ruling, believing that the judgement would be nullified at the Supreme Court.

But there were those who hailed the ruling, saying it was a sign that the judiciary cannot be intimidated.

Wale Shaibu, tech analyst, said the APC would not want to give up Kano State easily.

“Just like Lagos, you know how crucial Kano State is to electoral success in the country; I mean for presidential polls, I don’t believe any party would want to lose the state. So expect them to do anything to get the state back”, Shaibu said.

There were those who said that perhaps Yusuf May would have survived such a ruling if the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar had won the presidential poll.

“Kano overwhelmingly voted for Yusuf, however, the devil that is affecting the mandate is because Atiku did not win the presidential poll.

“If Atiku had won he would not be removed from office by the tribunal,” Ahmed Tanimu, a lawyer said.

Furthermore, Musa Abubakar condemned the tribunal’s position, noting that the judgement further explained the inconsistency of the judiciary in delivering judgement in the country.

“It is sad, it is the same thing that we saw in the presidential election petition ruling, this Kano judgement explains the inconsistency in our judiciary,” Musa said in his X, formerly Twitter handle.

However, Michael Onu hailed the judgement and called for more support for the judiciary for them to carry out their constitutional role.

According to him, “It is not only when the opposition won that you clap for the judiciary, let’s pray for them to stand up in the face of intimidation.

“The tribunal judgement should be commended by all. It is sad that some Nigerians don’t see anything good from there, despite the condition they are working with.”