Verdict 2019: How Ganduje won at tribunal
By Abdulyassar Abdulhamid
Kano State governorship election was one of the exciting scenarios that almost stole the show of the 2019 general elections as the leading parties in the state- the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- were set to wrestle out their heated arguments through the muscles of their followership.
The State is the APC’s strongest hold. During the February 23 presidential election, the State gave the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari 1, 464,768 votes, the highest in the country, as against the 391, 593 votes his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) managed to garner.
On one hand is the incumbent Governor Ganduje gaining momentum due to the unprecedented human-centred projects he brought to the State. New public infrastructure have been provided and existing ones upgraded. As one pundit put it, “the infrastructural projects will not only improve the welfare of the people, but also attract direct foreign investors to the state.”
On the other hand was the anointed god-son of the former two-time governor of Kano State, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who was being groomed to take over from the incumbent Governor, primarily as the incumbent and Kwankwaso had fallen out.
However, many well-meaning Nigerians had cautioned against the tense political atmosphereand overstretched political campaignsas the two major sources of evil that were capable of causing political unrest in the state.
INEC cancels Gama Result
As the two leading political parties went to the polls on Saturday March 9, 2019, the All Progressives Congress (APC) won in 28 out of the 44 local government areas of the state, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won in the remaining 16 local government areas.
The total number of registered voters was 5,426, 989, while accredited voters were 2,211,528;and out of this number, the ruling APC scored 987,819, while the main opposition PDP scored 1,014,474; and 141,694 votes were cancelled. Why?
According to the Returning Officer of the gubernatorial poll in the state, Prof B. B. Shehu, the election was declared inconclusive in accordance with Section 26 of the INEC Act because the number of rejected voteshad exceeded the number of vote margin between the top scorer and the runner-up of the election.
Kano State was not the only state caught in the web of inconclusiveness; governorship elections in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto and Plateau States were all declared inconclusive.
Therefore, INEC slatedMarch 23 for the conduct of supplementary election in 172 polling units – with Gama, a ward with more than 40,000 registered voters- being the centre of the attention where election was cancelled due to irregularities, disturbances, over-voting and or non-usage of the card reader machines.
Different reactions trailed the cancelation. Reacting to the cancellation, the PDP agent at the collation centre, Alhajin Rabiu Sulaiman Bichi said that his party would not append signature on the result sheet until INEC retracted its steps.
According to him, INEC should go back to the area affected, collect results from primary sources and declare the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate the winner.
The PDP asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare its candidate, Abba K. Yusuf, as the winner of Kano State governorship election. The party said Yusuf had scored the highest number of lawful votes and secured the statutory 25 per cent in two-thirds of the state.
On his part, Dambazzau of the APC argued that there was no any breach of Electoral Act as INEC followed due process in the collation of result.
According to him, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a law-abiding party, had faith in the Commission and would patiently wait for the supplementary election.
On his part, while reacting to the INEC’s decision to conduct a supplementary election in the affected areas, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso said that the supplementary election would determine the credibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Ganduje boasts to shock PDP’s Abba Kabir Yusuf
Two days to the supplementary election, Governor Ganduje of Kano State said that the PDP candidate, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf and his supporters would receive the shocker of their lives in the re-run governorship election.
According to the Governor, he was unperturbed and the APC as a party had also re-strategized and was very confident of victory at the polling units where the re-run would take place, asthe electorate in these areas had made up their minds to vote massively for the Governor they trusted.
Many observers had associated Governor Ganduje’s victory at the polling units, especially Gama Ward, to the massive projects the Ganduje administration executed in the community.
INEC declares Ganduje winner of Kano State gubernatorialelection
On March 24, 2019, the Returning Officer for the Kano Governorship Election, Prof. Bello Shehu, declared the incumbent Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje the winner of the 2019 governorship election in the state.
A combination ofresults of March 9 and February 23 elections showed that the All Progressives Congress’ Ganduje polled 1,033,695, while his close challenger, Abba Kabir Yusuf of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) polled 1,024,713.
Having satisfied the requirements of the law by scoring the highest number of votes, according to him, Governor Ganduje won with a margin of 8,982.
He added that the winner was declared after the collation of results from all the affected 28 local government areas where the supplementary election was conducted on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
The convoluted argument: PDP’s Abba Kabir Yusuf went for court option
Twenty days after the declaration of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje as winner of the March 23 governorship election in Kano State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP in Kano finally filed a petition against the victory.
The petition filed by the party before the Governorship Election Tribunal challenging Ganduje’s victory was contending that its governorship candidate, Abba Yusuf, won the March 9 election.
The party also contended that the supplementary election conducted by INEC was unconstitutional and unlawful, a decision many pundits and even some Kano PDP chieftains passed as an attempt to ‘run with hare and hunt with the hound.’
The party furtherargued that the supplementary election conducted by INEC had no place in the constitution.
Speaking to journalists shortly after filing the petition, the DPD candidate, Abba Kabir Yusuf said that during the March 9 governorship election, the PDP got the highest votes across the 44 local governments in the state, adding that their prayer was for the tribunal to determine the actual winner in accordance with the March 9 election.
The Kano Election Tribunal upholds Ganduje’s victory
One turning point of events at the Kano Election Tribunal was PDP’s application seeking to amend the list of its witnesses. In his submission, the lead counsel to Abba Kabir Yusuf, Asiwaju Adegboyega, said he brought the petition to correct some errors made on the names of their witnesses earlier filed on April, a decision Ganduje and INEC’s counsels, Offiong Offiong (SAN) and Ahmed Raji noted as contravention of the Electoral Act. The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Halima Shamaki dismissed the application.
Another is how a PDP chieftain, Dr. Yakasai, admitted, before the Tribunal, to locking himself in a room with a result sheet and a biro for almost an hour “to change figures.”
On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the Kano Election Tribunal dismissed the petition filed by the PDP’s Abba Kabir Yusuf challenging Ganduje’s victory, thereby upholding Ganduje’s victory.
The tree-man panel led by Justice Halima Shamaki said that the petitioners failed to prove their case before the tribunal.
“The tribunal finds and holds that the State Returning Officer substantially complied with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended), the Electoral Act (2010 as amended) as well as the regulations and guidelines in relation to the cancelation of the polling units results affected by over-voting and violence,” Shamaki said.
Reacting to the final judgment, Governor Ganduje urged the people of Kano State to remain calm and law-abiding.
“The truth has prevailed at last,” Ganduje said.
However, in his remark, the State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Rabiu Sulaiman Bichi, said that the party and its candidate would appeal the judgment.