Kano Court Of Appeal Ruling: Lawyer’s Group Back Verdict, Warn Critics

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The legal group, Guardians of Democracy and Rule of Law, has issued a warning to Farooq Kperogi, a Nigerian professor based in the United States, and other anti-democratic elements, urging them to cease their campaigns of calumny against the judiciary.

This caution comes in the aftermath of the Appeal Court ruling on the March 2023 gubernatorial election in Kano State. Last Friday, the Appellate Court in Abuja upheld the Kano state governorship petition tribunal’s decision to nullify Abba Yusuf’s election, citing a breach of the Constitution by the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) for sponsoring Yusuf, who was not a party member.

In a statement released by its secretary, Barr. M.I Gardo, the legal practitioners commended the justices for demonstrating impartiality, independence, and strength in the face of intimidation from groups like the Kwankwasiyya. However, Gardo emphasized the need for all Nigerians to resist any attempts to undermine or ridicule the judiciary.

The group’s stance underscores the importance of upholding the integrity of the judicial system and ensuring that it operates free from unwarranted attacks or external pressures.

“As a body of lawyers dedicated to the defence of the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria, we wish to draw the attention of the vast majority of Nigerians to the implication of the actions of Kperogi and others on the reputation and integrity of the Court of Appeal,” he said.

“While it is succinct to state that the Justices of the Court of Appeal delivered a sound judgment in line with the provisions of the law, the diatribe perpetuated by the NNPP and its hirelings like Kperogi and others smacks of mockery and an attempt to ridicule the judiciary.

“It must be stated that Abba Kabiru Yusuf’s nomination as the Candidate of the NNPP for the March 18 Kano State Governorship election was in clear breach of Section 177(1c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“The deduction 165,000 votes from the total votes cast for the candidate of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) in the March 18 Kano governorship election by the Court of Appeal is also a very sound and well-reasoned judgement predicated on the strength of Section 63 of the electoral act 2022, as amended, which mandates INEC not to count ballot papers that do not bear the official mark of the commission.

“We wish to also, very importantly, warn Nigerians of the dangers the NNPP through its subsidiary, the Kwankwasiyya group, poses for our young democracy. A group that adopts violence, falsehood, destruction and flagrant breach of our laws as its tactics to win elections in Nigeria if not quickly checked, will soon bring our democracy to its knees. The Kwankwasiyya movement is unfit for our democracy and civil society. We urge the NNPP group to immediately sever every tie with the movement!

“This anti-Democratic tendency of the group has been much evident in the serial campaigns of calumny and tantrums it has continued to throw at the respected honourable justices of the Court of Appeal instead of towing the path of democracy and rule of law by appealing the judgement if it is dissatisfied with the ruling.

“We further observed that the ultimate aim is to cause disrepute to the Justices of the Court of Appeal and discredit the judiciary’s impartiality in Nigeria. This action is an affront and an assault that must be rebuffed.”

The group, therefore, vowed to defend the judiciary and urge them not to succumb to blackmail but to dispense justice without Fear.

“We also want to use this opportunity to warn the NNPP, Kwankwasiyya group, Kperogi and other anti-Democratic elements to desists immediately forthwith from campaigns of calumny against our hallowed temple of justice and the bench.

“The impartiality of the judiciary in Nigeria is never in doubt. An independent, strong, respected, and respectable judiciary is indispensable for the impartial administration of Justice in a democratic State.

“Finally, we wish to invite the DSS, Nigerian Police Force, and other relevant security outfits in Nigeria to take notice of the unguarded utterances of the above names persons and organizations against the bench and deal with the matter expeditiously while providing the needed security for uninterrupted justice dispensation in Nigeria.”