There was tight security in Abuja as Supreme Court Monday delivered judgement on the Bauchi, Kano, Sokoto and Plateau states’ governorship elections.
Blueprint observed that police personnel and vehicles were seen positioned at strategic places and roads leading to the apex court.
The police and army vehicles were also seen patrolling roads around the apex court and the federal secretariat to forestall any act of breakdown of laws and order.
The judgement came after the opposition PDP had insinuated that the Supreme Court was trying to ‘capture’ the states for the ruling APC.
PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, had while making the allegations said:”Is there any law which permits the Supreme Court or anyone else for that matter, to unilaterally increase the total accredited votes by any margin after the accreditation and or the election? Where did the Supreme Court get the numbers to declare Uzodinma/APC from a paltry 96,456 votes over Ihedioha/PDP votes of 276,404?” the party further queried.
Secondus also said: “Even if all the excess accredited votes of 127,209 manufactured by the Supreme Court were added to Uzodinma/APC, it will be 223,657 votes, still less than Ihedioha’s votes of 276,494 by 42,747 votes.
“The fact is that, the Supreme Court, as presently constituted under Justice Tanko, has lost its credibility and no longer commands the respect and confidence of Nigerians.
“We had intelligence before the verdict on the Imo governorship that the hierarchy of APC had decided that they must use the Supreme Court to capture the states won and controlled by the PDP such as Imo, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa and Benue.
“The PDP therefore advises Justice Tanko not to allow himself to be used/to push our nation to the path of anarchy and constitutional crisis as any further attempt to subvert justice in the pending petitions on Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Adamawa as well as Kano and Plateau states will be firmly and vehemently resisted.
“In other to avoid an imminent breakdown of law and order, the PDP demands that Justice Tanko Mohammed immediately steps down as CJN and chairman of the National Judicial Council as Nigerians have lost confidence in him and a Supreme Court under his leadership. Justice Tanko must not head the panel to determine the remaining election petitions before the Supreme Court.”
The court verdicts
Contrary to the party’s position, however, the Supreme Court validated the election of the PDP’s candidates in Bauchi and Sokoto.
While validating the election of Governor Bala Muhammed of Bauchi state, a seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, unanimously dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Muhammed Abubakar.
In the lead judgement, Justice Dattijo Muhammad held that the evidence of the appellants’ witnesses at the election tribunal was inadmissible.
Affirming further, he said, “PW3, 6 and 33 evidences are inadmissible and are hereby expunged for failing admissibility,” saying, “as affirmed by the lower court, they gave no evidence at all.
“I found no merit in this appeal and hereby dismissed it. Their evidences are at best hearsay.”
He added that the appellants failed to demonstrate the perversity in the concurrent judgments of both the election tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which had both affirmed the Bala’s victory and that of his party-the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to warrant the verdicts of the lower courts to be set aside.
In another lead judgement, the apex court also affirmed the election of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Ngwuta, who headed the seven-man panel of the apex court, dismissed the appeal filed by Jeremiah Useni of the PDP.
Justice Paul Galinje, who delivered the lead judgement held that the appeal lacked merit.
The judge also dismissed the appeal filed by Lalong on the grounds that having dismissed the appeal by Useni, the other appeal had become academic
The apex court affirmed further that the appellant failed to prove his case.
While aligning with the tribunal’s verdict, the apex court insisted that the Plateau election was conducted in compliance with the electoral law and INEC guidelines.
On eligibility, the apex court held that it had not been shown that the second respondent failed to meet up the requirement, saying the contentious issue of the names Simon Lalong Sule and Simon Bako Lalong did not reduce his status and eligibility to contest.
Quoting Section 177, the lead judge said: “A person shall be qualified for governorship election if he is at least 35 years’ old, be a member of a political party, sponsored by a party and educated to school certificates level.
“This appeal is against concurrent findings of two courts i.e Appeal Court and the tribunal.
“I have no reason to fault the affirmation of the tribunal. On the whole, this appeal failed, and I hereby dismiss it.”
The apex court equally struck out the appellant cross appeal and it was unanimously upheld by the other six judges.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had affirmed Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano state as duly elected in the March 23 governorship election in the state.
In a unanimous judgement read by Justice Ngwuta, the court held that the challenger, Abba Yusuf of the PDP did not show that the Court of Appeal and the election tribunal were wrong in their earlier rulings.
The seven-member panel said the appeal had no merit and dismissed it.
The apex court also struck out a cross-appeal filed by Ganduje, the APC candidate.
On Sokoto, where an allegation of over-voting and noncompliance with the electoral act in the election was levelled, the court ruled that the appellant could not prove his case.
While delivering the lead judgement, Justice Uwani Abba-Aji held that the appellants failed to produce credible evidence to prove their case.
Abba-Aji held that the court cannot rely on documents tendered in evidence by the appellant because they were not authentic.
The documents tendered, the court ruled, were witness statements originally given in Hausa but translated into English.
The apex court said the translated versions were not admissible and cannot be relied upon because they amounted to hearsay.
In a unanimous verdict, the court dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.
In his reaction, Governor Mohammed said the verdict had confirmed his mandate and that it was time to concentrate on quality governance.
“I want to appreciate the people of Bauchi State who have voted for me across party lines.
“I will make sure I work with them without discrimination. I will make sure I give them good governance and ensure nobody is excluded.
“I am extending hands of fellowship to the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mohammed Abubakar.
He should come and join hands with me so that we can continue from where he stopped,” Mohammed said.
Similarly, Governor Lalong said the judgement had rekindled his confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
Lalong said: “I thank the good people of Plateau who voted for me. Today, their mandate is validated. I will continue to serve them with all my strength and energy.”
He appealed to the people of the state to quickly put the protracted litigation behind and unite toward building a prosperous state, NAN reports.
“The election has finished; litigation is over and it is now time to serve the people. For me, I am going to embrace the opponent, especially our father, Senator Jerry Useni, who brought us through this journey.
“I know he is not tired. We will make sure we tap from his experience so as to build a state we shall all be happy to call our own,” the governor further said.
Era of bad blood over- Ganduje
In his reaction, Governor Ganduje described his victory as a gateway to reconciliation with the aggrieved party in the legal tussle, adding that with the victory bringing the whole saga to an end, the days of bad blood and unnecessary mudslinging was over.
Speaking to news men at the Kano Government House Monday, Ganduje stated that the issue of reconciling the forces involved in the tussle became necessary in view of the need to put heads together to make Kano great.
He said there was no better time to forge such a common front than now, most especially that Kano was leading the crusade of making the nascent democratic system great.
The governor said the issue of reconciliation should be seen as a leeway of accommodating all and sundry, since every Kano indigene had a stake as far as the issue of leadership is concerned.
Ganduje said putting the past animosity and acrimony behind should be the major cardinal thrust of those who viewed animosity and vendetta as a subtle way of settling scores.
He said:”I considered my victory as a clear indication of what was ordained for me by God to serve humanity with diligence. We are going to accommodate everyone irrespective of one’s ideological leaning. We want make Kano great and we are hell-bent on achieving our goal.”
“We are willing to forge ahead with our plan on free and compulsory education in the state to embrace every strata. We are not going to discriminate against anyone irrespective of one’s background. One has to consider the fact that Kano is for everyone. The issue of security would be adequately tackled and that everybody would be protected, in as much as one is domiciling in Kano State”.
“We want the aggrieved persons to sheathe their swords and work towards protecting the interest of Kano State. Individuals have their perception of leadership and we consider it as a point of responsibility for everyone to contribute his widow’s mite in charting a good course for the State” he added.
On what his government was doing to complete the high profile independent power plant and the multi-million Naira rail project, Governor Ganduje said with his government taking the bull by the horns in executing viable projects that would have direct bearing on Kano people, the projects were set to be completed this year.
And from Jos, the Plateau state capital, residents were reportedly thrilled by the governor’s victory at the apex court.
One of our correspondents reports that the streets erupted into jubilation by youths and some adults soon after hearing the final verdict of the court.
At Buzu Street, Anguwan Rogo as well as many areas within the city centre, a peaceful celebration was on, while some youths chanted political songs in support of Lalong.
Hassan Usman, who spoke to Blueprint said: “We are happy because our votes were lawful confirmed for the fourth consecutive times.”
He said they were thrilled by the final judgement because Lalong had been developing their areas, which “no governor has done that since 1999.”
Similarly, the management committee chairman of Jos North local government council, Hon. Shehu Bala, expressed appreciation to God, and the judiciary for, “validating the election of his Excellency Governor Simon Lalong.”
He said: “I wish to congratulate our able leader of the rescue adminstration, for yet another victory at the judiciary.
“This judgement indicated that people’s real mandate has been justified, validated and brought to an end unnecessary distraction to good governance.”
Sokoto verdict shocks APC
In its reaction, the APC expressed shock at the apex court’s verdict in favour of Governor Tambuwal.
In a statement Monday by its spokesperson, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the APC said it won’t threaten the peace of the nation’s democracy despite the ruling.
“We have just lost Sokoto State governorship to PDP on account of the judgment delivered today by the Supreme Court.
“We should state that the judgment is completely strange to our expectations based on the facts before us. For the record, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwa, the current Governor of Sokoto State, is on his seat with 324 votes with over 30,000 cancelled votes in the March governorship election.
“PDP does not see anything wrong in this, but it is comfortable with Mr. Emeka Ihedioha occupying the governorship seat in Imo State for seven months without meeting the constitutional requirement of 25 percent in two-third of the Local Government Councils in the state.
“Unlike PDP, we are not going to behave like spoilt brats and threatened the peace of the country over the surprising judgment of the Supreme Court on the Sokoto State seat,” the statement said.