A cross section of civil society organizations, law professors and religious leaders have added their voices to the ongoing political confusion in Kano State occasioned by the judgment of the governorship election petition tribunal’s judgment.
The Prelate of the Triumphant Global Network Incorporated, Prelate Dr. Adebayo Adejola called for a restraint and warned that the political scapegoat scenario being witnessed in Kano State, instead of the point of law, could create an unprecedented social disorder in Kano State.
He called on the principal actors to ensure that justice prevailed in judgment.
In a telephone interview granted by the UK-based General Secretary of the Organization of Christian in Democracy, Ms Tolani Akintunde, she asked that democracy should be allowed to prevail and the will of the majority of Kano State should be respected.
Another foremost Christian leader, Rev. John Benjamin is of the opinion that the recent tribunal judgment in Kano State is a miscarriage of justice and should be looked into critically by the higher appellate court in order to preserve the integrity of the judiciary.
A Civil Right Organization, Peace and Order Mandate, through its National Chairman, Comrade Ayodele Joseph, promised to monitor the event critically until justice prevails.
To Columbia based Professor Farouk Kperoogi, the judgment will be as dead as ‘dodo’ at the court of appeal.
He argued that the Kano Governorship Election PetitionTribunal would collapse like a pack of cards at the appealate court.
He said; “APC appears intent to get back through judicial manipulation what it lost through the ballot box. It’s a higher-order, more sophisticated, and less primitive version of the broad-day electoral heist they perpetrated in 2019 after former Governor Abdullahi “Gandollar” Ganduje lost to the same Abba Yusuf INEC was manipulated to declare the election as “inconclusive,” even though APC unambiguously lost it. It bears no recounting what happened thereafter.
“The single-minded, concentrated, unstoppable political steamroller that Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso unleashed in this year’s governorship election in Kano was simply too overpowering for Ganduje and Nasir Gawuna to withstand.
“It is significant that APC didn’t even claim to have won the majority or plurality of the votes cast during the governorship election in Kano this year. It merely invoked a welter of issues that are extraneous to the vote, which are balanced on a dubiously slender thread of legal evidence, to ask for the reversal of NNPP’s victory.
“Three points constitute the nucleus of APC’s judicial challenge to the NNPP’s victory at the tribunal: that NNPP’s Abba Yusuf wasn’t a registered member of the party on whose platform he ran; that the Electoral Act was violated through “over-voting,” violence, and disenfranchisement; and that 165,663 votes for NNPP in Tarauni, a Kano local government, were invalid because they lacked INEC’s markers of authenticity, i.e., stamps, signatures, and dates. “Invalidating 165,663 votes out of NNPP’s 1,019,602 votes while leaving APC’s 890,705 votes untouched handed a dubious victory to APC by default.
“It’s easy to see how APC’s victory at the tribunal will crumble like a paper bag upon appeal.
“First, membership of a political party is an internal matter that non-party members have no legal right to be concerned about. “In its response to APC’s challenge of Peter Obi’s qualification to run for president on the platform of Labour Party because he was not a registered member of the party as of April 30, 2022, when the party turned in its membership register to INEC, the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal ruled that, “The issue of membership of a political party is an internal party affair.” It dismissed APC’s challenge on the basis of this.
“A May 26 Supreme Court ruling also says rival parties have no right to question the validity of the internal decisions made by other parties unless they can prove that they suffered demonstrable harm as a result of the internal decisions another party took. So, the Kano governorship election tribunal’s verdict on this issue will be as dead as a dodo upon appeal.There was no innocent party when it came to the violation of the Electoral Act.
“In fact, if the standard established by the Kano Governorship Election Tribunal were to be applied to all elections in the country there would be no valid election anywhere. Enduring systemic dysfunctions and our all-too-familiar disposition to game or attempt to game the system will always result in violations of well-intentioned laws by all parties. So, that judgement was neither here nor there, in my opinion.
“Perhaps the stickiest, most indefensible, and least logical of the tribunal’s verdict was its arbitrary nullification of NNPP’s 165,663 votes on account of ballot papers lacking symbolic indicators of legitimacy from INEC.
“First, why is NNPP the only party whose votes were overturned on this account when it’s obvious that all parties that partook in the election, including APC, also had votes that weren’t stamped or signed? ”
Second, as Bello Galadi, a past Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association in Zamfara State, pointed out, Section 63(2) of the Electoral Act doesn’t support the tribunal’s ruling.
“If the Returning Officer is satisfied that a ballot paper which does not bear the official mark was from a book of ballot papers which was furnished to the Presiding Officer of the Polling Unit in which the vote was cast for use at the election in question, he or she shall, notwithstanding the absence of the official mark, count that ballot paper,” the Electoral Act says.
“In other words, INEC signatures and stamps are merely symbolic; they are not mandatory stamps of validity. If all the parties involved in an electoral contest are united in affirming the genuineness of ballot papers in spite of the ballot papers lacking INEC’s symbols of validity, they are lawful. Apparently, on election day, neither APC nor its agents questioned the validity of the votes the tribunal had overturned. So why whine after the fact?
“Where were the APC’s Polling Agents when the ballot papers were being sorted?”
Galadi asks. “How did they allow unauthenticated ballot papers to be counted in the first place? Where were… INEC’s officers when the unauthenticated ballot papers were allegedly being smuggled into the boxes?”
“Galadi also argued that the number of votes the tribunal nullified is greater than the number of votes by which NNPP defeated APC, which by law requires the tribunal to at worst declare the election “inconclusive” and order a re-run.
“I think predicting the collapse of APC’s governorship tribunal victory upon appeal is a slam dunk because it can’t survive the crucible of serious legal challenge. It seems like a politically motivated verdict, such as the verdict that overturned Adeleke’s election, that has zero chance of surviving an appeal.”
Also, two professors of law have criticized the ruling that it was filled with errors.
Professor of Law, University of Ibadan, Professor S O Adegoke noted that the panel clearly showed sentiment and emotion in support of the APC in the language used in the judgement.
Adegoke said: “I use this opportunity to condemn the gang of Red Cap wearers who, like a violent and terrorist cult, chased us out of Kano and put us in the fear of our lives. We believe that only Allah is the giver of power. Those who believe in Allah must bow to his will and submit to the authority of governmental power. Resort to anarchy, violence, and killing can never be a source of lawful power. Threatening to put Honourable Judges in the danger of their life as done in Kano by some disgruntled bandits parading as politicians is hereby condemned.
“Every judge worth his salt will always abandone and ignore any form of threat to stand by justice and pronounce justice. This Tribunal in the lead judgment has pronounced justice, and we stand by justice. I concur with the lead judgment and commend my lord the chairman for delivering this judgment under the threatened fire and brimstone by bitter losers. There is always another day for politics. I am in no doubt that the security Agencies know and are aware of those who removed their eyes from their case and put it on the judiciary. They are also aware of those who extended the threat further by declaring that they will kill the Judges. This threat must not be swept under the carpet.
“Instead of some Kano politicians to be allowed to use banditry and violence to abort Democracy in Kano State, justice will be used to stop them from destroying Democracy in Kano and upward, we do not want Anarchy and terrorism as being promoted in Kano State and as threatened by them.One could be forgiven to think the judgement was prepared by card carrying members of the APC, the language used clearly showed malice against the NNPP and it is by far the most unprofessional judgement I have seen in my 38 years in this profession.”
Also speaking, the Acting Head of Department, Law, University of Maiduguri, Professor Tijjani Buba stated that mentioning Nasiru Gawuna as a petitioner in the judgement when he is not, is clearly a case of gross unprofessionalism and hostility.
Buba, quoting the judgment on page 222, said: “It is hereby determined that the Petitioner, NASIRU YUSUF GAWUNA having scored a majority of lawful votes and having met the constitutional requirement, is hereby declared the winner of the election and returned elected as the Governor of Kano State.”
Describing it as a disgrace to the law profession, Buba said: “I think the people who wrote that tribunal judgement have a motive to disgrace the law profession and cause grace disrepute. It is the only explanation for this shameful narration as a judgement. I urged the National Judicial Council to investigate this issue as a matter of urgency.”