Fear has gripped political office holders and party chieftains in Kano, Sokoto, Benue and Plateau states, following Tuesday’s judgement of the Supreme Court, which sacked Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State and declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 9, 2019 governorship election, Senator Hope Uzodinma, winner of the poll.
The apex court, had in the landmark judgement, which many described as an upset, hinged its decision on the ground that Ihedioha, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), did not score majority of the lawful votes in the election.
Consequently, the judgement has caused jittery in the camps of public office holders in the four states – Kano, Sokoto, Benue and Plateau – where the Supreme Court deferred till Monday, January 20, for judgement on appeals filed over their respective governorship elections.
Our correspondents in the respective states gathered yesterday that while it was hope in some camps, apprehension was the situation in others as parties to the matters wait patiently for Monday’s verdict of the apex court.
In Kano, where the candidate of the PDP, Abba Kabir is challenging the election of Governor Umar Ganduje, it is tension on both sides.
While supporters of the opposition PDP in the state are of the view that the judgement of the Supreme Court on the Imo State matter is a great sign that victory is theirs, supporters of the ruling APC said they are not perturbed.
The state chairman of the APC, Comrade Abdullahi Abbas, who also shared similar view, said he sees the forthcoming judgement of the Supreme Court as one that will affirm the party’s victory in the election.
“You can see that from the tribunal to the Appeal Court, the journey of our victory has been so smooth and this goes to tell you that the Supreme Court will only confirm this victorious path of ours,” Abbas said.
He added that Governor Ganduje’s election for a second term, which was after a rerun, was nothing but a product of a lawful exercise.
“The cancelation of the earlier election resulting to a rerun was because the votes cancelled was higher than the margin of lead and the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had to do the needful by cancelling the election for a rerun and the outcome was a victory for us,” Abbas added.
But, a PDP supporter, Barr. Hassan Salisu, said he is not in doubt that the apex court will give them victory. “The rerun was not a product of law because to us the election was concluded on March 9, 2019. Therefore, the Supreme Court will give our party victory, God willing,” he said.
It is also anxiety in Sokoto as residents of the Seat of the Caliphate, ponder over the postponement of the judgement on the governorship election appeal filed before the Supreme Court by the candidate of the APC, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu against the election of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of PDP till Monday.
Already, some personnel of the respective security agencies have conducted a “show of force” ahead of the judgement even as over 1,000 conventional and plain cloth officers and men of the Police have been deployed by the Sokoto State Police Command across the state to maintain peace and order.
The security deployment has continued to raise fears, especially among supporters of the PDP in the state, who are accusing the Federal Government of plotting something sinister.
Some of the PDP supporters, who spoke with New Telegraph expressed shock over the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Imo State matter. They, however, hopeful that the judgement of the apex court’s on the Sokoto State matter will be in favour of their party.
The situation is also the same in Benue State as the camps of the two main parties in contention – PDP and APC – are apprehensive over what may be the outcome of Monday’s verdict.
Both Governor Samuel Ortom of the PDP and the defeated candidate of the APC in the March 9 general and March 23 supplementary election, respectively, Emmanuel Jime, also appear not to be leaving anything to chance.
Each of them is optimistic of emerging victorious by the time judgement is delivered by the Supreme Court on Monday. But, the posture of the duo and freaky mood of their supporters has charged the already tensed political atmosphere in the state.
Sensing danger ahead of the judgement, leaders of the two “warring” sides have implored their supporters to remain calm as they await the judgement of the apex court.
The state chairman of the PDP, Sir John Ngbede, in a statement made available to New Telegraph in Makurdi, enjoined members of the party to remain steadfast and not be distracted by the activities of the opposition.
The statement, signed by the party’s state publicity scribe, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom, said the “victory handed to Governor Ortom and other PDP candidates at the 2019 elections was emphatic and comprehensive as well as it was credible.”
Ngbede added that the party sees no cause for any alarm resulting from happenings at the apex court and enjoined members of party not to pay heed to any antics being done by the opposition since they are of no consequence.
The state chapter of the APC, on its part, also said it is not jittery over the outcome of the impending verdict, expressing optimism to coast to victory.
Its state Acting State Publicity Secretary, Mr. James Ornguga, told New Telegraph in an exclusive chat that “outside what happened in Imo State, we have been very optimistic that APC won the election and we will be given justice.”
His words: “We have always been very optimistic, we told the media before now that the tribunal denied us justice deliberately; the Court of Appeal did same. We knew very well that they neglected very vital aspects of the case, but we thank God, the Supreme Court is there to review the whole matter.”
He alleged that since the Supreme Court declared Senator Uzodinma as the duly elected governor of Imo State, “there has been heightened manifestation of provocation from PDP members in Benue State.”
He added: “Most shocking is the fact that even senior appointees of the Ortom administration are gradually throwing integrity to the dogs by adopting unpleasant language, which seeks to denigrate Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka, who prophesied APC’s victory in Imo as well as rope in Senator George Akume for more attacks.
“We find this ceaseless unleashing of toxic comments by members of the Benue PDP family as acts of desperation that should rather be avoided and ignored by our members. We urge our members to avoid arguments with Ortom’s men, who seem emotionally wounded to avoid the escalation of their anger to full blown attacks.”
In Plateau State, the situation is not as tensed as in the other three states.
Residents were observed going about their normal businesses. This is as members of the ruling APC in the state, said they are not perturbed as according to them, Governor Simon Lalong is bound to defeat the candidate of the PDP, General Jeremiah Useni at the Supreme Court.
The APC loyalists hinged their optimism on Lalong’s victories over Useni at the tribunal and Court of Appeal.
The state secretary of the party, Barr. Sati Musa Bashi, who expressed similar optimism, said that the party is very comfortable and there is no cause for alarm.
“When a matter is in court, there is no need for comments, but we solidly stand by the tribunal and Court of Appeal’s judgements, and we are very hopeful that what happened at those stages would be endorsed by the Supreme Court,” he said.
However, PDP supporters in the state are hoping that the apex court will turn the table against the APC the way it did against their party in Imo State.
The party’s Publicity Secretary, Hon. John Akans, said: “We are praying and hopeful for justice to be delivered by the Supreme Court.”
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the PDP said it is still in shock over Tuesday’s Supreme Court judgement that sacked Ihedioha, as governor of Imo State.
At the party’s National Secretariat on Wednesday, leaders of the party were locked in a meeting. The meeting was still going on at the time of filing this report.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, who had invited journalists for a press conference, later called it off at the last minute.
Though no reason was given for the cancellation, our correspondent observed that there was general despondence among PDP staff. The judgement dominated discussions among them.
The staff later held a prayer session at the PDP National Chapel, for God’s intervention in the affairs of the party. The prayer lasted about two hours.
The PDP leadership had issued a statement immediately after the Supreme Court judgement on the Imo State matter, describing it as a sad commentary.
The party, however, urged all its stakeholders in the state to remain united, calm and await further instruction from the national leadership.
The party’s candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, also issued a statement in solidarity with the party and Ihedioha.
Atiku told the party that since the Supreme Court is the last arbiter on the matter, it should accept the judgement, advising that “rule of law must guide our paths even if logic sheds light on a different path.”