There were both tension and excitement in Kano metropolis yesterday after the Election Petitions Tribunal in its judgement declared Nasir Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the winner of the 2023 governorship poll in Kano, thereby removing Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf from office.
A combined team of armed security agencies, made up of the Army, Navy, Civil Defence, Police and Department of State Services (DSS) personnel, was placed at all sensitive locations of the state to deter any form of uprising.
Groups of APC supporters were seen in different locations in the metropolis celebrating even before the verdict was read.
Some of the places they were stationed include, Murtala Mohammed Way, close to the demolished Daula Hotel, Farm Centre Road, close to the NUJ Press Centre and also close to the Emir’s Palace in the state capital.
While some APC supporters were seen jubilating after the judgement, there were reports of people closing their shops and running helter skelter in the Sabon Gari area of the metropolis populated by businessmen from other parts of Nigeria who feared the area could be targeted in the event of any fracas.
Delivering the judgement yesterday, the chairperson of the tribunal, Justice Oluyemi Akinatan-Osadebey, who read out the verdict, said Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) was not qualified to contest the election, and that he did not win the majority of votes cast in the race.
She said the candidate of the APC, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, won the election by the majority of lawful votes cast.
The judgement was delivered virtually via Zoom while admission into the court premises was restricted with security beefed up and very few people were allowed inside.
Justice Osadebey further instructed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Yusuf and issue same to APC’s Gawuna as the the bonafide winner of the election.
Gawuna is a former deputy governor of the state.
A member of the defence team, Bashir Yusuf Muhammad Tudunwada, told newsmen that the judgement passed by the tribunal does not manifest the justice of the matter, adding that the NNPP will go on appeal.
“The tribunal has delivered its own judgement. We are going to consult our clients and I can assure you that we are going to appeal against this judgement. And I can assure this decision will be set aside on appeal.
“It is not a new thing; if you look at the decision that has been taken by the Tribunal in Osun State, it is almost the same as this one,” he said.
Commenting on the verdict of the tribunal, Sunusi Musa (SAN) of the APC team, explained the three points why the party was victorious at the tribunal.
“When we presented this petition, we complained about basically three things: that there was substantial non-compliance with respect to the refusal of INEC to apply the principle of margin of lead – which is to the effect that there were cancellations in so many polling units, which led to the 14 members of the House of Assembly having their elections declared inconclusive.
“So, there was a need for a rerun in those polling units before declaring the winner. INEC refused to follow that.”
He also stated that his team was able to prove that the governor was not a member of the NNPP as of the time of the election.
“The third one is the issue of majority lawful votes cast which we have successfully shown to the court that there were inflation of votes, and it was admitted by them in their pleadings, particularly INEC, that some thugs came to the polling units and put invalid votes in those polling units, and we were able to bring out all those invalid votes; and eventually when the court invalidated those votes from the votes of the present Governor of Kano state, it found out that, actually, APC candidate Dr Nasiru Gawuna won the election with the majority of lawful votes cast,” he stated.
The tate governor, in an interview with the BBC Hausa station, stated that the tribunal had taken away the mandate of the people, especially those who trooped out en masse to make sure that their votes count.
“I have since directed our lawyers to obtain the copy of the judgement and appeal,” he said.
In the build-up to the tribunal judgement day, a little drama took place when the chairperson of the tribunal alleged that there were attempts to bribe the judges.
Both the NNPP and the APC accused each other of the intention to bribe the judges to give judgement in their favour.
More so, the NNPP had staged two massive prayer sessions, with tens of thousands of supporters in attendance, seeking divine intervention in the judgement.
The governor had also sacked the Commissioner for Lands, Adamu Aliyu Kibiya, for threatening the lives of the Tribunal judges if they should give verdict against the party.
Similarly, the governor also sacked a special adviser on youths for unguarded utterances against the person of Vice President Kashim Shetima.
These incidents have contributed immensely to the tension that led to the tribunal sitting virtually, via Zoom.
Police Impose 24-hour Curfew To Avert Violence
Following the tension that preceded the verdict of the Election Petition Tribunal, the Kano State government has announced a 24-hour curfew as the Kano Police Command has vowed to enforce it.
In a statement by the police command, signed by the Commissioner Muhammad Hussaini Gumel said violators of the curfew will face the wrath of the law.
“In view of the constitutional mandate of the Nigeria Police Force alongside the relevant internal security and law enforcement agencies to preserve law and order in the state, the Kano State Police Command has mapped out strategies in that direction and call on the good people of the state to give the necessary confidence and support.
“Going forward, Kano State residents are called upon to note that combined security forces have already been dispatched to the nooks and crannies, including the entry and exits of the state to ensure enforcement and strict compliance of the 24-hours curfew order as communicated by the state government taking effect from 6pm of Wednesday, 20th September to 6pm of Thursday, 21st September 2023. Violators will be arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law.”
The statement urged all the people of the state to remain law-abiding.
Ganduje, Gawuna Ask Kano Residents To Remain Calm
Meanwhile, the national chairman of the APC, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, has hailed the tribunal for judgement that ordered the removal of the state governor, Yusuf Abba, of the New Nigeria People’s Party.
They, however, called on Kano residents to remain calm and peaceful.
Ganduje, the immediate past governor of Kano, made his position known while briefing journalists in Abuja shortly after the decision of the tribunal which declared the APC candidate, Nasir Gawuna, the winner of the election.
He thanked God for guiding the judiciary to deliver a perfect judgement and President Bola Tinubu for providing an enabling environment for the tier of government to flourish.
The APC chairman, who thanked party leaders as well as members within and outside the state for their support and prayers, assured the business community that good days await it when APC takes over the reins of power in Kano.
Gawuna assured people of the state when he takes over the seat of governor, an enabling environment would be provided for businesses to thrive while healthcare, commerce, education and security would be given priority.
He said: “It is a day that Allah (God) has made it fruitful for us to emerge victorious based on the judgement of today (yesterday) and (Alhamdulillah) we have to thank the judiciary for being fair. We know Allah is the one that has done it. He is the one that has done it for us before. He is the one that has done it now and (in Sha Allah) He will do it for us in the coming time. We pray that Allah will give us the health and life to be able to deliver to the people on the right path.”
Bala Mohammed, Supporters Celebrate As Court Affirms Him Bauchi Governor
The three-man panel presiding over Bauchi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has reaffirmed Bala Mohammed’s re-election.
The judges led by Justice P.T. Kwahar in a judgement delivered yesterday struck out the petition filed by the candidate of the APC, Sadiq Baba Abubakar, challenging results of the election declared by INEC.
The electoral umpire had declared Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed winner of the election with 525,280 votes to defeat his closest contestant Ambassador Sadique Baba Abubakar, who polled 432,272 votes.
The panel dismissed the petition for lack of merit and evidence to nullify the election.
Reacting to the judgement in a speech at Ramat House, Governor Mohammed said it is high time his opponents sheathed their sword and joined him in making Bauchi State great again.
He commended the professionalism shown by the three-man panel from the beginning of the trial to its conclusion.
Governor Mohammed, who dedicated his victory at the tribunal to the citizens of Bauchi State, said he was a governor to all Bauchi State citizens, and not just for any part, section or religion.
“Now that the tribunal has ruled, it is my candid opinion that it is time to set aside whatever misgivings we may have and move on.
“The task ahead of us is enormous, requiring unity of purpose, a pooling of resources, integration of talents and leveraging the unique attributes of each of the contestants, as we seek to create a better society for our people.
“Against the above background, I solemnly invite my worthy opponents, each of whom is an unqualified success in his own right, to sheathe their swords, and to join me in the collective quest to harness the enormous resources of the state to create a modern economy that would benefit everyone within Bauchi State, Nigeria’s pearl of tourism,” he said.
The situation in Bauchi state after the tribunal judgement was calm, but some PDP supporters trooped to the streets to celebrate the ruling.
On his part, lead counsel to the petitioner, Mr Kola Olawaye, SAN, said they would apply for the certified true copy of the judgement and discuss with his client for further action.
All efforts to get reaction from the Bauchi State APC failed as the state publicity secretary, Adamu Aliyu Jallah, declined to respond to calls and text messages sent to him.
Judgement Cannot Stand – NNPP
The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) said it received with utter incredulity and disbelief the judgement of the Kano State Election Petition Tribunal, stating that such a judgement cannot stand.
A statement issued by the acting national chairman of the party, Abba Kawu Ali, said the reported judgement nullified the free, credible and globally acclaimed fair election of its governorship candidate, Engr Abba Kabir Yusuf and brazenly awarded the election to the APC candidate, Nasiru Gawuna.
“The Tribunal arrived at this unjust judgement by unfairly subtracting 165,663 votes from the governor’s tally in order to enable it to unfairly award the election result to the candidate of the ruling APC. In doing so the Tribunal obviously affirms its belief that the vote tally of the APC candidate was sacrosanct.
He described the judgement of the three-man panel as laughable and a blatant miscarriage of justice.
“The decision of the tribunal is a slap on the face of Constitutionalism and rule of law and is capable of further discouraging the electorate from having confidence in the judiciary.
“The NNPP recalls with regret that this Tribunal has simply replayed the unholy script of 2019 by overturning the will of the people and awarding election results to those who evidently lost the election.
“The NNPP will appeal this most unfair judgment. We call on millions of our supporters in Kano and in the rest of the country to remain calm and maintain the peace. This lopsided judgement cannot stand on the altar of natural justice,” the statement added.
Enugu Governor Mbah Knows Fate Today
Anxiety has gripped some parts of Enugu State as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu is set to deliver its verdict on the 2023 governorship election in the state tomorrow, Thursday 21, 2023.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Kudirat Morayo Akano had earlier reserved its judgement and, according to judiciary sources, had yesterday announced its judgement date for Thursday by 9am.
Following the announcement, there is panic among the supporters of the two major political parties: the ruling party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP).
The matter between Chijioke Edeoga of the LP and Governor Peter Mbah of the PDP had been the most interesting in the history of post-election legal disputes in Enugu State.
The contentious issues are the authenticity of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate presented by Peter Mbah, who was declared the winner of the election by INEC.
The opposition Labour Party had alleged that Mbah failed to fulfil his mandatory youth service obligations before assuming a political post in 2003.
Also, the broader issues surrounding Mbah’s election victory include the validity of the votes accrued during the electoral process.
But normal vehicular traffic is still going on around the Independence Layout venue of the State High Court complex where the judgement will be delivered.
It was gathered that security arrangements will be beefed up this morning to prevent any breakdown of law and order.