By Abiodun OBA
In a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, held that Governor Abba Yusuf was not a valid candidate in the Kano State gubernatorial election held in the state on March 18.
The appellate court, therefore, nullified the election of Governor Kabir Yusuf and maintained that evidence that was adduced by the parties established that Governor Yusuf was not a member of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, at the time the election was held.
According to the court, Yusuf, under section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, was not qualified to contest the governorship election since he was not validly sponsored by the NNPP.
“A person must be a member of a political party before he can be sponsored for an election.
“Sponsorship without membership is like putting something on nothing,” the court held in its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice M. U. Adumeh.
Consequently, the appellate court upheld the earlier judgement of the Kano state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which nullified Governor Yusuf’s election.
It will be recalled that the tribunal had in a virtual judgement it delivered on September 20, sacked governor Yusuf of the NNPP, from office and declared Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressive Congress, APC, as the valid winner of the governorship poll held in the state on March 18.
The three-member panel tribunal, led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan-Osadebay, held that some ballot papers that were relied upon to declare Yusuf as the winner of the gubernatorial contest, were neither signed nor stamped by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
It proceeded to declare 165,663 of the votes that were credited to the NNPP candidate as invalid.
Following the deduction of the said invalid votes, Yusuf, who was initially declared winner of the governorship poll with a total of 1,019,602 votes, had his tally reduced to 853, 939 votes.
With the development, his closest rival and candidate of the APC, Ganuwa, emerged as the winner of the election with 890,705 votes.
Dissatisfied with the judgement, Governor Yusuf approached the appellate court to set it aside, even as he accused the tribunal of misapplying the law.
Recall, only yesterday, the executives of the two main rival political parties, NNPP and APC, signed a peace accord before the State Joint Security Committee prior the Appeal Court’s judgement in the Kano Governorship election in Abuja.
The members of the two political parties agreed, among others, to shun all forms of celebration or protests during and after the judgment.
The State Secretary of APC, Ibrahim Zakari-Sarina and the NNPP Deputy Chairman, South, Ibrahim Dahu, made the vow before the Police Commissioner, Usaini Gumel.
The duo said that they would make sure that the state remained peaceful before, during and after the deliverance of justice at the Appeal Court.
Dahu, on his part, said: “It is true that we have no state better than Kano as such, our sentiments, passion and political parties support based should not be a yardstick to create violence because of the Appeal Court Judgement.”
Dahu also said that his members have been forewarned long ago by the state government to desist from violence, adding, “anybody found fomenting violence will be dealt with without delay.”
Zakari Sarina on his part said, “I will personally mobilize all my party members to remain calm whatever happens at the Appeal Court, and this is because we are known for keeping peace in Kano.”
Gumel, alongside the State DSS Director and other security chiefs said that they have taken all the necessary measures to ensure that Kano remained peaceful.
“We have worked extra mile to ensure that we maintain the peace Kano enjoyed and we are doing all we could to arrest any unforeseen circumstances that might truncate peace” the joint security chiefs vowed.