Date: December 7, 2023 12:15 am
The city of Kano, the Kano State capital, remained calm on Friday despite the Appeal Court judgment which affirmed the sacking of Governor Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party and declared Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress as the duly elected governor.
Saturday PUNCH monitored the situation and observed that despite the judgment, residents went about with their normal businesses as human and vehicular movement continued unhindered.
However, armed security personnel earlier deployed to major streets and other strategic places in the state capital, were on the ground to forestall any breakdown of law and order as a result of the Appeal Court verdict.
It was also observed that marketplaces, filling stations and other business premises were also operating without hindrance.
Recall that the leaders of the two political parties had on Thursday signed a peace accord at the state Police Command where they appealed to their supporters to be peaceful and orderly ahead of the Appeal Court judgment on Friday.
They urged the people of the state to be law-abiding and avoid any act that could lead to breakdown of law and order in the state.
The state Police Commissioner, Hussaini Gumel, had during the event (signing of peace accord) said the state Police Command in collaboration with the military and other relevant sister security agencies in the state had jointly concluded all necessary security arrangements to ensure peace before, during and after the Appeal Court judgment.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had affirmed the tribunal judgment which declared Gawuna the winner of the governorship election.
The tribunal led by Justice Oluyemi Osadebay had nullified the election of Governor Yusuf by declaring that 165,663 of his votes were invalid.
The tribunal held that the ballot papers were not signed nor stamped by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Displeased by the tribunal verdict, Yusuf appealed against the judgment.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the tribunal judgment which declared the All Progressive Congress candidate, Nasiru Gawuna winner of the governorship election.
Delivering judgment on the matter on Friday, the Appeal Court held that Yusuf was not qualified to contest the election.
The three-member panel led by Justice M.A Adumeh held that Yusuf was not in the membership register of his political party.
Citing a provision of the Electoral Act, he said a party must have the names of its registered members both in hard and soft copies.
He also said that Yusuf did not put up any resistance against the allegation.
“If you claim you are a member of a party, is it not logical to say so yourself rather than by proxy,” the judge asked.
He said Section 134 of the Electoral Act allowed the court to entertain an averment on the qualification of a candidate in an election.
Justice Adumeh held that the court would not allow political party to act arbitrarily.
He said, “Constitution is supreme and binding on all person including political parties. Political parties cannot be permitted to circumvent the clear and mandatory provision of the constitution. To contest an election, you must not only be a member of a party but sponsored by that party.
“The Electoral Act made it mandatory that a party must keep a register of its members and make it available to INEC before an election.
“Abba was not a member of his party by the time he was purportedly sponsored by his party. He was not qualified to contest the election. A court must be consistent with its judgment.”
He noted that the tribunal was wrong not to have disqualified Yusuf in its ruling.
“The tribunal Was wrong not to have disqualified him. The failure to comply with sec 177(c) is fatal to their election. A person must. Where a party carelessly nominates a candidate such is a nullity irrespective of whether he performs well. Sponsorship without membership is like putting nothing on something, it cannot stand. This is a clear example of acting with brazen impunity as if the Constitution is not binding, “he held.
Adumeh, however, berated political parties for always blaming their defeat at the court on the judges.
He said, “The same party will wake up to accuse the judiciary including infamous allegations of corrupt practices.
All the issues are hereby resolved against the appellant. The judgment of the tribunal is hereby affirmed. The sum of N1m is hereby awarded in favour of the first respondent against the appellant. “
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the election of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Mohammed of the PDP as the winner of the election.
Following the declaration of Mohammed as the winner, the APC candidate, Sadique Abubakar, approached the governorship election petition tribunal, challenging the victory.
The Bauchi State Governorship Election Tribunal dismissed the APC candidate’s petition, upholding the election of Bala.
But Sadique dragged the matter to the Appeal Court, insisting that the March 18 poll was marred by irregularities.
However, ruling on the matter on Friday, the panel of three justices, who were unanimous, upheld the verdict of the tribunal.
The panel led by Justice Chidi Uwa, held that the appellant failed to prove his allegation that the forms and booklets used in the election were not properly filled.
The court also held that the appellant failed to state the polling units involved and how the said improperly filled forms affected the results of the election.
Uwa held that the appellant also failed to prove the allegation of non-compliance with the electoral law during the election.
In another development on Friday, the Kano State NNPP called the people of the state, especially its supporters to remain calm.
The state Chairman of the party, Hashimu Dungurawa, said the powers to determine the validity of votes in electioneering process was vested on INEC.
Dungurawa made this known on Friday via a telephone interview with Saturday PUNCH, following the sacking of Governor Yusuf by the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja.
Dungurawa added that the decision to take the matter to the Supreme Court for further appeal would be subject to the choice of the governorship candidate and the legal team of the party.
He noted that the mandate given to Governor Yusuf by the people was stolen on grounds that INEC’s rule of recognising the candidate with the highest votes as the winner was not followed.
He said, “It is a stolen mandate because the party with the highest number of votes is the winner of any election, according to democracy, and that’s why I said it’s a stolen mandate.
“It’s INEC’s job to say the votes that are valid and those that are invalid, and nobody outside that jurisdiction should and that’s according to the constitution because the constitution is what made the Electoral Act.
“We are calling the attention of our people, especially the people of NNPP in Kano, that they should be calm. The governor and our team of lawyers will do all that is necessary and possible to reclaim our mandate that was taken away from us. This is what I know.”