The Kano State government on Wednesday declared a 24-hour curfew in the state to avoid a breakdown of law and order following the sacking of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigerian People’s Party by the state’s Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
Security was beefed up across the Kano metropolis on Wednesday shortly after the ruling of the three-man election tribunal led by Justice Oluyemi Akintan-Osadebay declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Nasir Gawuna, as the winner of the March 2023 governorship election held in the state.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Gumel, who confirmed the curfew order in a statement, said the restriction took effect from 6 pm on Wednesday to 6 pm on Thursday (today).
Gumel vowed to ensure strict compliance with the order, warning that defaulters would be arrested and made to face the wrath of the law.
He said, “A 24-hour curfew order has been communicated by the state government via letter with reference no: K/SEC/H/435/T.1/153 dated 20th September 2023 taking effect from 6pm of Wednesday, 20th September to 6pm of Thursday, 21st September 2023.
“In view of the constitutional mandate of the Nigeria Police Force alongside the relevant internal security and law enforcement agencies to preserve law and order in the state, the Kano State Police Command has mapped out strategies in that direction and called on the good people of the state to give the necessary confidence and support.
“Going forward, Kano State residents are called upon to note that combined security forces have already been dispatched to the nooks and crannies including the entry and exits of the state to ensure enforcement and strict compliance of the curfew. Violators will be arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law.’’
“Finally, I wish to appreciate all the peace-loving people of the state and urge them to remain law-abiding as it’s in the best interest of all that we come together to maintain law and order in the state,” Gumel added.
Before the curfew was imposed, apprehensive traders had hurriedly locked up their shops across the major markets and shopping plazas as residents rushed home after the tribunal invalidated Yusuf’s election as Kano State governor.
The court ordered the withdrawal of the certificate of return from Yusuf and directed that a new one should be issued to Gawuna.
The panel had commenced proceedings via Zoom, transmitting the proceedings at the Miller Road venue of the tribunal.
The judgment came weeks after the lawyers of both parties made their closing arguments on behalf of their clients on August 21.
The court ruled that 165,663 votes of the governor were invalid.
According to the judge, the ballot papers for the 165,663 votes were not signed and stamped, therefore, they were invalid.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared that the NNPP polled 1,019,602 votes to defeat the APC whose candidate scored 890,705 votes. The NNPP candidate thus won with a margin of 128,897 votes.
However, the APC filed a petition at the tribunal to challenge the results declared by the electoral body.
In its verdict, the tribunal also said the issue of sponsorship and party membership is an internal affair of the party.
Reacting to the judgment, the acting National Chairman of the NNPP, Abba Ali, said it was a replayed script of the 2019 governorship election in which the tribunal allegedly upturned the people’s mandate and awarded it to the loser.
While appealing to millions of its supporters in the state and across the country to remain calm and maintain the peace, the party vowed that the alleged lopsided judgment would not stand.
Ali said, “The New Nigeria People’s Party receives with utter incredulity and disbelief the judgment of the Kano State Election Petition Tribunal on the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
“The NNPP recalls with regret that this tribunal has simply replayed the unholy script of 2019 by overturning the will of the people and awarding election results to those who lost the election.
“The reported judgment nullified the free, credible, and globally acclaimed fair election of our governorship candidate, Engr Abba Kabir Yusuf brazenly awarded the election to the APC candidate, Nasiru Gawuna.’’
It alleged that the tribunal arrived at its judgment by deducting unfairly the votes of Yusuf by 165,663 and awarding it to the APC candidate, describing the judgment as laughable and a miscarriage of justice.
‘’The decision of the tribunal is a slap on the face of Constitutionalism and the rule of law and is capable of further discouraging the electorate from having confidence in the judiciary. The NNPP will appeal this most unfair judgment,” the party stated.
The counsel to the NNPP, Bashir Wada, said his clients would appeal against the judgment of the tribunal.
He stated, “The tribunal has delivered its own judgment, we are going to consult our clients and I can assure you that we are going to appeal against this judgment because it is a judgment which we felt does not manifest the justice of the matter and I can assure this decision will be set aside on appeal.
‘’It is not a new thing if you look at the decision that has been taken by the tribunal in Osun state, it is almost the same as this one that the tribunal without evidence can go and look at the document that was tendered before it. I can assure you this judgment will not see the light of the day in the Court of Appeal, by God’s grace.”
The Spokesperson for the NNPP Presidential Campaign Council, Ladipo Johnson, also said the party would appeal the verdict.
He said, “I have not seen the judgment but all I can say is that we are going to appeal it naturally.”
The spokesperson for the Agbor Major-led faction of the party, Abdulrazaq Abdulsalam, regretted the judgment, noting that the party still has other legal options it could explore to recover the mandate.
Meanwhile, the Kano governor, Yusuf, has said his supporters have rejected the judgment of the state election tribunal which declared Gawuna the winner of the March 18 governorship poll.
The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Sanusi Bature, said he would appeal the ruling of the tribunal, describing it as unfair.
He said, “Of course, we are going to appeal the judgment. We are rejecting the judgment because it is an unfair judgment and we have completely rejected it. We are going to appeal the judgment immediately.”