THERE is tension in Kano and Bauchi states ahead of today’s Supreme Court’s verdicts on the suits seeking the removal of Governors Abdullahi Ganduje and Bala Mohammed as well as their Sokoto counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, from office. Armed security operatives have been stationed on major roads and strategic areas of Kano to forestall a possible breakdown of law and order.
Governor Ganduje, his deputy, Nasiru Yusuf Gawna, top government functionaries comprising commissioners, permanent secretaries and political appointees as well as chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have temporarily relocated to Abuja, in anticipation of a favourable judgement from the apex court.
Members of the Kwankwasiyya political group in support of Ganduje’s challenger, Alhaji Abba Kabiru Yusuf, popularly referred to as “Abba gida gida” are expecting the Ganduje’s electoral victory to be invalidated to end the nine-month legal battle for the governorship seat.
The judgement will also determine the political superiority between Ganduje and a two-term former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who singlehandily ‘anointed’ Abba to run against Ganduje. The Yusuf’s camp expressed optimism of a favourable verdict going by the reasons adduced by the apex court in declaring the APC candidate, Hope Uzodinma as the authentic winner of the gubernatorial election in Imo State.
Feelers from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) camp indicate that they expect the apex court to apply the same reasoning used in the Imo matter since, according to them, it is relatively not different from what transpired during the Kano governorship poll.“It is exactly what happened in Kano that happened in Imo. If an election has to be cancelled, it has to be at the polling unit level, according to the Supreme Court ruling. But in Kano, votes were not cancelled at the polling unit, they were not cancelled at the ward level but they were cancelled at the local government level. So it goes without saying that Ganduje is gone and anything to the contrary, Nigeria will see the fire,” Alhaji Buba Galadima, a PDP chieftain had claimed.
In a swift counter reaction, the coordinator of Ganduje’s legal team, Mohammad Abdullahi Lawan insisted the view of Galadima was absolutely without correlation between the facts and circumstances of the Emeka Ihedioha’s case and those of Ganduje. According to Lawan, “ In the former (Ihedioha case), whilst there was glaring evidence of the cancellation of results by officials other than the presiding officers, in the later case (Governor Ganduje) there was no evidence of such cancellation by officials order than the presiding officers.
“Instead, there was proven evidence in the Governor Ganduje’s case, that the cancellation of some of the 207 polling units were carried out by the respective Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) polling unit presiding officers as was clearly depicted in the numerous Form ECG 40s tendered and admitted in evidence without any objections by the petitioners.
“Again, in the Ganduje’s case, there was the inability of the INEC to collate the results of 62 polling units in Gama ward comprising over 48,000 registered voters in an election with a lead margin of only 26,000 votes! What is worse is that the disruption of the collation of the said results was caused by the PDP agent, one Dr. Yakasai, who testified as PW30.
“He admitted that whilst the said results were being collated, a commotion arose and he carted away the original results of INEC and hid himself in a room for over one hour with a biro with him! He kept the sensitive INEC documents in his custody for another hour before allegedly taking them to the Kano Commissioner of Police instead of INEC,” Lawan responded.
In Bauchi State, a coalition of different groups has cautioned political supporters against violence.There has been tension among the supporters of the APC and the ruling PDP, after the verdict on Imo governorship election.The Coalition of Elders for Peace and Good Governance in Bauchi, led by Alhaji Hassan Muhammad Sharif warned the political parties and their supporters against throwing the state into anarchy.
“As elders, we have had the experience of yesterday, we have the knowledge of today. That is what informed our decision to categorically express our stand with regard to the tension allegedly brewing among the political heavyweights and their supporters,” he said. Hassan, who spoke to journalists on behalf of 20 elders yesterday in Bauchi, said the coalition had foreseen danger ahead and would not allow the “generation of our unborn children suffer over the inaction of some unscrupulous elements within our midst.”
The group reminded the citizens of the peaceful political history of the state since the time of the late Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to the time of its first elected governor, Abubakar Tatari Ali. It, therefore, urged the residents to maintain the peace and accept the ruling of the apex court while taking the state as the priority.
The President of Arewa Youth Initiative and Mass Mobilisation for Voting Wisely enjoined the youths to desist from engaging in any from of violence ahead of the judgement. He therefore called on security agencies to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
Meanwhile, protest has continued to trail the apex court’s verdict that removed Ihedioha as governor of Imo State.Thousands of people of the state yesterday took to major streets in Owerri, the state capital, to protest against the judgment that replaced Ihedioha of the PDP with Hope Uzodinma of the APC.
The protesters who marched in their numbers to the Government House entrance, manned by heavy security personnel, demanded the reinstatement of Ihedioha as the governor, arguing that his removal was unlawful, undemocratic and a miscarriage of justice.The protesters, who were clad in black attire, carried placards with such inscriptions as “Reverse the injustice now”, “Ihedioha won landslide” and “Tanko must go.” The protesters sang sorrowful songs to express their agitations.
The leaders of the protesters, including Chris Okewuluonu, former secretary to the state government, Nze Ray Emeana, state secretary of the PDP, Mrs. Maria Mbakwe, said the protest was necessary in order to bring to the knowledge of the world that the Imo indigenes were displeased with the verdict.
They insisted that the judgment should be reversed on the grounds that it was made in error and against the interest of the state and judicial system in the country.The protesters also vowed to continue with their action and to engage in other legal means to get justice. “Imo people will vehemently resist any attempt to undermine our mandate and general welfare. We were all in shock when on the 14th of January the Supreme Court gave the judgement and awarded victory to APC candidate.
“We discovered that the Supreme Court did not devote much time to hear the matter. We deduced that there were some funny movements. Our fears were confirmed when, on the day of judgement, the Supreme Court went on break and resumed about 4:00 p.m.“The judgement was not in consonance with the arguments in court and did not reflect the election that took place in Imo State on March 9 last year. We are all Imo people and participated in the election and noticed that Ihedioha clearly won,” Okewulonu said.
“The Supreme Court must reverse the judgement. It has happened in the past. They should quickly reconvene and do justice. There are a number of instances where the Supreme Court realised it made a mistake and reconvened to do justice to the matter. The most important thing is the interest of the people of the state,” he added.
Also, PDP members in Abia State took to the major streets of Umuahia, the state capital, with placards to protest against the removal of Ihedioha.Addressing journalists after the protest match at the party’s office, the state PDP chairman, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, urged the court to reverse the judgement which he described as an injury to democracy.He said that despite the judgement, the PDP still had hope in the judiciary whose verdicts, he said, were sometimes painful.
According to him, there appeared to be some pressure on the court, going by the fact that the judgement was not delivered on the first scheduled date, perhaps to allow for alteration.He called on the international community to intervene and for the judiciary to save Nigeria from global embarrassment.