The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and its founder have expressed shock over Friday’s judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja affirming the earlier sacking of Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State by the election tribunal.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja nullified Mr Yusuf’s election on the grounds that he was not a valid member of the NNPP as of the time he contested the 18 March governorship election.
The panel led by Moore Adumein, in its unanimous judgement, declared Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the election, affirming the earlier decision of the election petition tribunal.
The tribunal had declared Mr Gawuna the winner of the election after invalidating 165,663 out of the total votes cast in favour of Mr Yusuf.
Speaking with journalists in Kano, the Kano State capital, on Friday, the chairperson of the party in the state, Hashimu Dungurawa, described the judgement of the Court of Appeal as a threat to the survival of democracy.
“This judgment poses a great threat to our nation’s democracy because the electorate elected Yusuf through the electoral process, in a free, fair contest.
“The judgment is very unexpected. We never expected it will happen this way. The way things are going and with the way the judicial system is, definitely democracy is coming to an end in this country.
“I see no reason why a person will go to the grassroots and introduce himself to the people, they will go to polling booth to cast their votes, and the independent election umpire will issue him a certificate of return, he will enter office and just one, two or three people will sit down and remove him. This is very unbecoming and is not helping matters”.
Mr Dungurawa described democracy as a game of numbers with his party proving to be ahead of other contenders in the state, but regretted that court verdicts are making nonsense of that.
“Democracy is said to be a game of numbers and the person in question happens to get the highest numbers in the election.
“At the Assembly, we have 26 out of 40 members; we have two out of three senators. And even in the Presidential contest, we had the highest votes in a state.
“We are not happy with this judgment and consider it unacceptable. We will take all the necessary steps to reclaim our stolen mandate.
“We will not allow it. People of Kano state are not happy with it; NNPP members are not happy with it,” he
Also reacting to the verdict, the founder of NNPP, Boniface Aniebonam, said it came to him as a rude shock to the party.
Faulting the finding of the Court of Appeal that Mr Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP, Mr Aniebonam said in a statement on Saturday that only the party itself can determine who its members are and not the court.
“Again a rude shock to me hearing the verdict of the appeal court in Abuja against the governor of Kano state, Abba Yusuf of NNPP.
“I do know that it is only the NNPP and its members that can determine who is a member of the party.
“I also know that a party and its members can bring into the party, and grant such a person a waiver to go into election and represent the party in an election.
“I also know and believe that it is only someone who contested nomination under NNPP that can challenge the membership of the party in an election.
“To the contrary, no other person has the right to raise objection.”
He, however, said that the NNPP still believed that justice would not only be done but seen to have been done.
The founder said: “Our hope is alive ahead the Supreme Court judgment in due time.
“I hereby encourage all members of our great party and indeed the indigenes of Kano in particular to keep faith with the final decision of God under this avoidable circumstances.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Court of Appeal Court in Abuja had, on Friday, upheld the decision of the Kano State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which sacked Yusuf earlier in September.
The three-member panel of the court unanimously held that Mr Yusuf was not a valid candidate in the governorship election that held in the state on 18 March.
The justices stated that the party’s ward register tendered before the tribunal established that the governor was not a member of the NNPP as of the time the election held.
“Sponsorship without membership is like putting something on nothing,” the appellate court held in its lead judgment that was delivered by Moore Adumein.
Consequently, the appellate court declared Mr Gawuna winner of the election.