Tension is high in Bauchi, Sokoto and Imo states ahead of today’s resumption of hearing of appeals challenging elections of seven governors at the Supreme Court. The seven outstanding governorship appeals before the apex court include the elections of governors Umar Ganduje (Kano); Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto); Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi); Samuel Ortom (Benue); and Simon Lalong (Plateau).
Governor Ganduje’s election is being challenged by Abba Kabiru Yusuf (PDP) who is contending that he was winning the election in majority of the local governments in Kano before it was declared inconclusive and a rerun ordered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He also alleged widespread irregularities in the March 23 rerun election in the state. APC’s Ahmed Aliyu is challenging the election of Governor Aminu Tambuwal.
He is alleging over voting and other irregularities in the election. Aliyu polled 511,661 votes against 512,002 votes by Tambuwal after conclusion of collation in the rerun. Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s election is being challenged by the APC candidate, Hope Uzodimma, the Action Alliance (AA) candidate, Uche Nwosu and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Ifeanyi Ararume.
Although the allegations of irregularities in the election by the AA and APGA against Ihedioha were dismissed by the Court of Appeal, there was a dissenting judgment in favour of Uzodimma’s appeal. CJN forced to adjourn hearing At the hearing of the Kano governorship appeal yesterday, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, retired to his chambers after complaining about the congestion in the court hall. Supporters of governors of Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa, Imo, Benue and Plateau states had thronged the court premises as early as 6am. Director of Litigation of the Supreme Court, Ibrahim Gold asked persons who had no serious business in the court room to leave.
The CJN was again forced to stand down and eventually adjourned the proceedings over the ill-health of one of the justices on the panel, Justice John Inyang Okoro. Other justices on the seven-member panel were Sylvester Ngwuta, Olukayode Ariwoola, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Amiru Sanusi and Uwani Musa Aba-Aji.
The battle for the soul of Bauchi State erupted at the court premises when persons believed to be supporters of Governor Bala Muhammad pelted the convoy of the former governor, Mohammed Abubakar, with water bottles after he came out of the court and raised his hands in a sign of ‘four plus four’. Reports show there is anxiety in the state. Meanwhile, former governor Abubakar of the APC has described the attack as a “last minute ditch effort” by Governor Mohammed to influence the outcome of the governorship tussle before the Supreme Court of Justice.”
In a statement by his media aide, Ali M. Ali, the former governor called on his supporters to remain calm to what he called “resort to uncivilised conduct from supporters. Such shameful conduct is reflective of the violent behaviour of their benefactor.” But the state Commissioner of Information and Communication, Dr Ladan Salihu, denied the allegations, saying he must have been pelted by his own supporters who felt shortchanged by his administration and his hand sign of ‘4+4’, which is an attempt to return to office.
In anticipation of the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment in the appeal by the APC governorship candidate, Ahmed Aliyu, challenging the election of Governor Tambuwal, the police have beefed up security in the state. The adjournment of the appeals on Monday stirred more speculations in the state that the move is to enable the appellants curry favour from the judiciary. But Governor Tambuwal, through his media adviser, Muhammad Bello, urged his supporters and people of the state to exercise patience following the adjournment of the case.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Kaoje, has assured the people of the state on keeping the state safe and secure, for all law-abiding residents to conduct their lawful businesses. He said the command had deployed one thousand conventional and plainclothes police officers across the state. Kaoje said adequate measures had been taken to ensure that peace reigned before and after the hearing.
There is anxiety in Owerri, the Imo State capital and environs over today’s hearing at the Supreme Court. Our correspondent reports that supporters of all the parties are upbeat as they have turned to prayer warriors, and pouring invectives on one another.
The police have warned supporters on both sides to exercise the highest degree of order and decorum in their jubilation on the outcome. In a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Orlando Ikeokwu, warned against breakdown of law and order.
“In view of the Supreme Court judgement on the Imo State governorship election, the Imo State Police command, in conjunction with other security agencies in the state, wishes to express its readiness to ensure safety and security of members of the public during and after the judgement,” he said.
Kano, Adamawa, Benue, Plateau calm
Reports from Kano, Adamawa, Benue and Plateau indicate that there is calm in the four states. Our reporters observed that business places such as markets, shopping malls, banks, filling stations were conducting their normal businesses.