There is tension and an uneasy calm across some states in the country as the Supreme Court is set to deliver its final judgments on the governorship elections that are still being challenged in courts.
Governorship polls were held in 28 of the 36 states of the federation in March 2023. While the outcomes in many of the states were not seriously questioned, others were challenged in courts. All the various cases have gone through the tribunals and the Court of Appeal. But the opposing parties are now awaiting the verdicts of the Supreme Court.
In states such as Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Delta, Bauchi and Plateau states, which are the main battlegrounds, there is apprehension in the political atmosphere. The frontline parties in the Supreme Court legal battles are the All Progressives Congress (APC), The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
In Nasarawa State, for instance, the PDP said there is a palpable sentiment that if the Supreme Court adheres strictly to the merits of the case without entangling itself in technicalities, David Emmanuel Ombugadu of the PDP stands a chance of being declared the winner.
In preparation for any eventuality, Saturday Sun gathered that additional security personnel have been deployed to flashpoints where there could be violence, especially in Nasarawa Eggon, Akwanga, Lafia and Karu Local Government Areas of the state. In Delta State, which is predominantly a PDP state, there is uncertainty as a cross section of party faithful still entertains fears over how the apex court would interpret Section 137 of the constitution. Their fear is not unconnected with the covert support for former Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege during the election by a PDP leader and former governor, who is now said to be pulling some strings at the presidency.
But a chieftain of the PDP, Sylvester Imonina, said APC was only daydreaming by thinking that the said section would be interpreted in its favour.
Imonina, a lawyer, cited the December 22, 2023 Supreme Court ruling on the governorship election in Enugu State as well as the 2017 decision on Bayelsa State governorship election to buttress his argument.
He contended that Section 137 required oral evidence to breathe life into electoral materials dumped at the tribunal in order to prove non-compliance, noting that the APC failed in that regard as the party called only three witnesses during trial.
In Plateau State, the incessant killings and general insecurity have necessitated the deployment of security personnel in parts of the state, including the capital, Jos. Residents who spoke to Saturday Sun said the Supreme Court verdict on the March 18, 2023 governorship poll in the state might escalate the insecurity in the state, even as they expressed satisfaction with the fresh deployment of security personnel. In Kano, one of the most volatile states, there is also apprehension as the APC and the NNPP await the Supreme Court judgment, which is due to be delivered in the coming days.
Investigations by Saturday Sun indicate that supporters of the APC in the state are on the edge, though they talk less about their fears and next moves. But a highly placed party member in the state said they are keeping their cards close to their chests since they won at the tribunal and at the appeal court.
At the moment, there is some light deployment of security personnel on the streets of Kano, especially in areas considered as political flashpoints. It was gathered that the number of deployed security personnel would definitely increase once a date is fixed by the Supreme Court for the judgement.
In Kaduna, in an apparent solidarity support for Governor Uba Sani, some women supporters from the opposition parties who did not want their identities revealed told Saturday Sun: “We are just waiting for the Supreme Court ruling so that we can defect to APC because we believe that the court ruling will favour Governor Sani. Even from the governor’s body language, you can see that he is sure of victory at the apex court. We cannot remain outside political happenings and die of hunger.”
There has been a security beef-up across the state since the governorship election petition tribunal and Appeal Court judgments that favoured the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate, Governor Uba Sani. The police authorities said they were leaving no stone unturned for the expected outcome of the Supreme Court ruling.
But in a chat with Saturday Sun, spokesman of the ruling APC, Felix Morka, said the party is unperturbed with the impending judgements, noting that it is certain of emerging victorious at the court.
“We are hoping for the best. There is no need prejudging the outcomes. We have had the opportunities to make our cases and we are hoping for the best outcomes,” he said. On the other hand, the PDP Deputy National Legal Adviser, Okechukwu Osuoha, said that the party expects the Supreme Court to do justice in the governorship appeal cases involving governors elected on its platform, which are currently before the apex court.
“We are expectant. We are looking up to the judiciary, the Supreme Court Justices, that they will rise up to the occasion and deliver justice in the matters. You know that it is opinion of the people that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.
“And today the matter has gotten to the highest court of the land. So everybody expects them to do the needful and deliver justice.”