By Tom Okpe
It’s been jubilation at the All Progressives Congress, (APC) National Secretariat, Buhari House Abuja as the Kano State Election Petition Tribunal, (KEPT) declared Yusuf Nasir Gawuna of the party, rightful winner of the the 18th March, 2023 Governorship election in the 2023 general election in the country, after months legal battle.
Recall that the Independent Electol Commission, (INEC) declared Gov Abba Kabiru Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, (NNPP) winner of the said election and consequently, sworn in as the State Governor in May, 2023.
But in a judgement Wednesday, delivered by the three-man panel, led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay, the tribunal in its verdict, declined the election of Governor Abba Kabiru Yusuf of the NNPP, giving judgement in favour of the APC, Gawuna.
It was reported that under tensed security and long wait for judges arrival, Justice Osadebay addressed the court via Zoom that the proceeding would be virtual.
It was however, not too clear, why the judges didn’t appear in court, but uncertainty, was insinuated around the tribunal.
It was also reported that the Tribunal had earlier been given life threat which scared them from appearing physically.
In the judgement, the Tribunal, however, declared that Governor Yusuf failed to show why the three prayers sought by the petitioner should not be granted.
In its earlier petition, the ruling party had asked that the court should determine if Governor Yusuf was a member of NNPP and qualified to contest for the election, also, to determine if the candidate needs to be declared winner and returned elected because he failed to secure the lawful vote.
The petitioner also argued that there were irregularities, including over-voting, violence, and other related electoral offences.
While on qualification, the tribunal ruled that although membership is an internal affairs, which political parties reserved the right to determine who its representative will be.
In its ruling, Justice Osadebay, maintained that membership registration obtained from the INEC clearly proved that Governor Yusuf did not comply with the electoral act, which required registration of membership 30 days before party primary.
On lawful votes, the tribunal held that about 165,663 illegal vote counts were unlawfully added in favour of the NNPP candidate, which spiked his total votes to 1,019,602.
The court declared that when the unlawful votes are deducted, Governor Yusuf should have been allotted 853,939 votes against the APC candidate who pulled 890,705 with a difference of 36,766 votes for the petitioner.
Declaring APC winner, the court ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return from Governor Yusuf, directing INEC to issue a fresh certificate of return to APC candidate, Gawuna as duly elected winner of the governorship election in the state.
Meanwhile, in his reaction in Abuja on Wednesday, National Chairman of the Party, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who is the immediate governor of the state, along with Gawuna at a press briefing, after the judgement stated that, “business will flourish again in the city.”
He said: “Today is a historic day. We thank Allah for providing an enabling environment for the judiciary to deliver fair, transparent judgement in our favour and judgement that is true, reflection of wishes of the people.
“We thank the judiciary, our party leaders in Kano State, the business community and various support groups.
“We have to commend everybody in Kano state for being patient and continuous prayers for Allah to give us victory. We urged them to continue to be peaceful and conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.
“We assure the Business Community that our new government if we come in, under our able Governor, Dr Yusuf Gawuna that business will flourish in Kano, again.”
Ganduje also, commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for creating an enabling environment for judiciary to flourish in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Gawuna stated that he will be fair to everybody in the state in executing his duties.
He said: “We are going to be fair to everybody. Kano State is a commercial city,” noting that commerce, education and health are areas, highlighted in “our blueprint during our campaign and, we will continue with what we have said.
“We will make sure Kano is free from insecurity and other vices as we appreciate the support we enjoyed from the state and beyond.
“We are going to return all demolished shops to those who have lost their hard earned wealth and property to Abba’s destruction. This is a promise, and we will certainly fulfill it,” he said.