Kano is uneasy as the appeals court upholds the tribunal's decision to remove Governor Yusuf

Kano is uneasy as the appeals court upholds the tribunal's decision to remove Governor YusufThe Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal judgment, which declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Nasiru Gawuna, as winner of the election.  

The tribunal, led by Justice Oluyemi Osadebay, had nullified the election of Governor Abba Yusuf by declaring 165, 663 of his votes invalid. The tribunal held that the ballot papers were not signed or stamped by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Yusuf’s votes were subsequently reduced to 853,939 while Gawuna’s 890,705 votes were not affected.  Displeased with the judgment, the governor filed an appeal at the appellate court.
The APC, INEC and the NNPP also entered cross-appeals before the court, asking the appellate court to set aside the judgment. Yesterday, a three-man panel of Justice dismissed the appeal filed by Yusuf and affirmed the judgment of the lower court.
 Justices M.A. Adumuh, who led two other justices of the appellate court, yesterday, affirmed the judgment of the tribunal on ground that the appellant was not a member of the New Nigeria People Party (NNPP), under which he contested.
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 Adumuh held that the court could not allow political parties to act arbitrarily.
He said: “The Constitution is supreme and binding on all persons 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 for 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 Section 177(c) is fatal to their election. A person must belong to a party. 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.
Adumuh, however, berated political parties for always blaming their defeat at the court on judges. He added: “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 N1 million is hereby awarded in favour of the first respondent against the appellant.”
Meanwhile, residents of Kano have expressed mixed reactions to the verdict of the Court of Appeal, amid uneasy calm in the state. A business tycoon in the state, Alhaji Abubakar Aminu, described the judgment as a tragedy to democracy.
According to him, the judiciary failed to consider the trust and choice of the people of Kano who voted massively for the NNPP candidate at the polls. He expressed optimism that the Supreme Court would uphold the will of the people. 
A special adviser to Governor Yusuf on Private and Voluntary Schools, Alhaji Baba Abubakar Umar, also said the judgment was disappointing. He regretted that the appellate court jettisoned the will and mandate of the people.  

“We won election in 2019 and this is exactly what happened. It was upturned through some forms of electoral manoeuvring. Now, we won election again in 2023 and it is disappointing that the Appeal Court ruled against us. The judiciary has ignored our plea on the basis of law and decided to rather take the side of technicality to deprive the people of Kano their legitimate right. This is rather unfortunate.  
“But we would not be deterred. We would proceed to the Supreme Court and we strongly anticipate that the Supreme Court will return our mandate. It has happened in Edo and Osun states. We believe Kano will not be different. This is not unexpected anyway. The struggle continues.  We hope the judiciary will be fair enough to return our mandate,” he said.  
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the APC, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has said the party was ready to confront Yusuf at the Supreme Court in the event he decides to appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
Ganduje, who reacted to the Court of Appeal decision that upheld the Kano election petition tribunal judgment that unseated Yusuf, assured that the APC would leave no stone unturned to sustain its winning streak in Kano State.   He noted that with Nasir Yusuf Gawuna on the saddle, the people of the state would enjoy good governance and purposeful leadership.
“We know they would probably say they will go to the Supreme Court. We too are ready to meet them in the Supreme Court. I am optimistic that insha Allah we will win. We assure the people of Kano State of the good administration that we provided in the eight years when I, alongside Gawuna, was there.
“Gawuna will provide a similar, better administration and even more would be recorded in Kano State because that is what we expect,” he said.   Ganduje, who thanked Allah for the court of Appeal judgment, added that the judiciary deserves plaudits in spite of all distractions that took place in the course of court proceedings. He further stated that the court of appeal judgment was not only a victory for the people of Kano State but also for democratic rule in the country.
Gawuna also spoke in the same vein, adding that the Court of Appeal decision further reinforced the fact that he would live up to the expectation of the electorate in the state by the time he mounts the saddle.

Also, the National Vice Chairman, North West, of the APC, Garba Datti Muhammad, has applauded the decision by the Court of Appeal.  Muhammad, in a statement yesterday, argued that the decision was in tandem with the will of the people and acceptability of the APC in the North West.
“I hail the decision of the appellate court, which has manifested Allah’s divine providence for Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna to be confirmed as the duly elected governor of Kano State.
“By upholding the verdict of the tribunal and setting aside the issues brought by the appellant, the ruling marks the culmination of a long and arduous legal battle that had gripped the state for months.
“It must be emphasised that this judgment is a triumph for the wish of the good people of Kano State, which validates their mandate to Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna and his deputy, Alhaji Murtala Sule Garo, and a relief from the vindictive and malicious destruction of the Ganduje legacies by the ousted NNPP government.
“Finally, I applaud the judiciary for their unwavering commitment to always remain on the side of justice,” he said. A chieftain of APC and immediate past Commissioner for Rural and Community Development in Kano State, Ilyasu Musa Kwankwaso, has urged Yusuf to honourably accept defeat and hand over the affairs of the state to APC. 
According to Kwankwaso, “it would be another mission impossible for the NNPP to drag the case to the Supreme Court, going by the available evidence that nailed the party both at tribunal and the Appeal Court. The NNPP should reserve the battle ahead of 2027

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