In an unsportsmanlike manner, losers in the Plateau, Kano and Sokoto state governorship elections are filing appeals.
The slight tension that heralded Wednesday’s governorship election petition tribunal judgement in Plateau State quickly decimated into a bittersweet experience for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their supporters.
A few hours into the judgement, supporters of the PDP took a hint as to the likely direction of the judgement and began leaving the tribunal premises with long faces. For the APC, it was jubilation and celebration all the way soon after the tribunal affirmed the election of its candidate, Governor Simon Lalong.
But the APC’s excitement was quickly dampened when the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Jeremiah Useni made it clear that he was not satisfied with the judgement and would appeal to retrieve a mandate he claimed was freely given to him by the people.
This was even after Governor Lalong had extended a hand of fellowship to Useni stressing that, there was no winner or loser in the verdict but Plateau State was the winner. Lalong had described his victory at the tribunal as a victory for the entire people of the state and an affirmation of the mandate freely given to him in the last general elections.
But Useni, who had banked on a positive outcome following last week’s Supreme Court judgement that upheld his interlocutory appeal against a Court of Appeal judgement which expunged the testimonies of 21 of his witnesses was grossly disappointed.
Soon after the judgement and a briefing with his legal team, Useni had in a statement through his Media Consultant, Abraham Yiljap described as unfortunate that “the tribunal did not avert its mind to the Supreme Court judgement which in turn affected the judgement.”
He said he was convinced that there are many grounds to appeal the judgement and has therefore instructed the legal team to take all processes with immediate effect and proceed on appeal.
Even as Lalong and the APC say they are prepared to meet their major opponents in court, the state APC secretary, Bashir Musa Sati advised the PDP to pursue their constitutional right peacefully without distracting the good intents of the APC administration.
In Kano, four days after the Justice Halima Shamaki-led the Election Petition Tribunal delivered its verdict on a petition filed before it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Engineer Abba Yusuf against Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the matter is not yet over as residents continued to discuss about it.
Even though the state did not witness any political crisis despite the anxiety ahead of the verdict, however, the judgement remains a subject of discussion in virtually all political and social circles.
Daily Trust on Sunday observed that on the day the verdict was delivered, a serious political debate erupted among supporters of the two political parties.
While the PDP supporters in their efforts to defend their political interest condemned and rejected the verdict, their APC counterparts were jubilating and hailing the tribunal over the verdict which they described as fair and objective.
The Kano State chapter of the PDP and its governorship candidate, Engineer Yusuf has already headed to the Appeal Court to challenge the verdict of Justice Shamaki-led tribunal.
The PDP Chairman in the state, Dr Rabi’u Suleiman Bichi told Daily Trust on Sunday that the party and its governorship candidate were not satisfied with the judgement, hence the decision to challenge it at the Appeal Court. He said their lawyers would analyse the situation in preparations for the appeal.
“Judgment like this, normally, we have to digest it. The most important thing is that even the judge has made it clear that she can make mistakes in her ruling and that she stands to be corrected.
“And you may recall that during the proceedings, we have challenged some of her rulings at the appeal court and we won and when the APC’s candidate went to the Supreme Court, we again won the case there.
“Based on our experience, we will appeal this judgement and I can assure you, we will regain our mandate at the appeal court. But our fear is that INEC and the courts may be, and are defining election in this country. The adage that the ‘end justifies the means’ is what we are witnessing here today,” he said.
However, his counterpart of the APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas called on the PDP and its governorship candidate to accept defeat, as according to him, even if they appeal the case, APC and its candidate, Dr Ganduje would win.
In Sokoto, the last may not have been heard of the legal tussle over the 2019 governorship election. The Election Petition Tribunal held on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, dismissed the petition filed by the APC and its candidate in the governorship election, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu against the election of Governor Aminu Tambuwal.
While Tambuwal offered an olive branch to his challengers, the APC insisted it was neither retreating nor surrendering.
“The Sokoto State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) wishes to state categorically that it rejects the ruling. We believe that the judgement has turned justice on its head,” the state chairman of APC Hon. Isa Acida asserted.
“Our lawyers are studying details of the judgement with a view to filing an appeal at the appropriate court of law,” he said.
Though normalcy was gradually returning to the state, it has been anxiety since last Monday when the judgement day was unveiled for the petition instituted by the APC candidate in the 2019 governorship election against the election of Governor Tambuwal.
Even though the tribunal shifted the judgement from Sokoto to Abuja, the state remained tensed until Wednesday when the verdict was delivered.
In the end, while the supporters of Governor Tambuwal and PDP were jubilant those of the APC were sober.
Before the judgement that was delivered, many PDP supporters trooped to the Government House in anticipation of the governor’s victory just as those of the APC were seen drumming and singing at the party secretariat along the Sultan Abubakar Road.
For Tambuwal, they have every cause to celebrate the victory. “We won in the first round of the election before it was declared inconclusive and the rerun was conducted and we won again,” he said.
“Then APC and its candidate decided to approach Tribunal and we won at the tribunal again. We have every cause to celebrate this victory and to dedicate it to Almighty God and the people of Sokoto State,” he said.
But to APC, the judgement was unfair. “The party will explore all available legal means to reclaim our stolen mandate,” the state chairman of APC Alhaji Acida avowed.