Nasarawa Election Tribunal: Fear Grips Al-Makura As The Table Turned Against Him
Following the outcome of the election petitions Tribunal sitting in Lafia, the Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura is said to be in fear, shock and jittery over how his witnesses turned against him at the Tribunal, thereby testifying against him.
This medium learnt that with high hopes before the day the unexpected happened at the Tribunal, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had boasted of how they will come with their witnesses to testify in the Governor’s favour that he actually won the April 11 election.
As gathered by this medium from a government House, he said; “I can tell you that since that incident that happened, the governor is really in a state of panic, confusion and bewilderment and that accounted for the reasons why he ordered his defence counsel to abruptly close their case. In fact, as things stand now the governor is in a state of jittery.”
It will be recalled that, there were drama that played out at the Tribunal as Al-Makura’s witnesses testified against him, and with this fear the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, refused to present witnesses in Court.
It all started last week, as Gov Almakura’s lawyers abruptly closed his case after the Governor’s witnesses began to testify in favour of APGA, stating that it was the Former Minister of Information that won the election in their respective areas on April 11.
This medium gathered that Al-Makura’s lawyers expressed shock at the depositions of Almakura’s witnesses in favour of Maku. The Governor’s lawyers led by Yusuf Ali (SAN), requested and got one day adjournment to meet with the remaining witnesses before continuing the following day. But to the surprise of everyone in court, rather than continue the following day, Almakura’s Lawyers abruptly withdrew all the remaining witnesses and closed their case on Thursday morning without any further explanation.
The Governor’s Legal Team had forwarded a long list of 24 witnesses to help defend their client. They were expected to close their case after 10 days of presentation and review of witnesses in court. It all ended abruptly in a few hours in two days.
However, on Monday the second respondent, the APC also ended its presentation abruptly after its first two witnesses ended up denying their own witness statements under cross examination by Maku/APGA’s lawyers.
One of the APC witnesses under cross examination, even denied his own signature on the witness statement, stating that it was not his own. Uncomfortable and anxious about the damage from the first two witnesses, APC lawyers withdrew the remaining 53 witnesses and closed their case under two hours rather than the 10 days allotted to them under the schedule of the Tribunal’s proceedings.
It was also learnt by this medium that with this dramatic turn of events at the Tribunal, Al-Makura pulled back all his witnesses; this medium learnt that this was done by the governor to curtail damage on the floor of the tribunal.
However, hardly had the fuss over how Governor Al-Makura’s witnesses who failed to testify in his favour died down; the Third Respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) abruptly closed its case without featuring any of the 24 witnesses it had forwarded to defend its case.
INEC was expected to appear in court with witnesses to answer to charges of irregularity lodged by Former Minister of Information and the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the April 11 election in Nasarawa State . Maku’s lawyers led by Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama had submitted a detailed account of irregularities against INEC, including comprehensive statistical evidence showing that it was APGA that won the election and ought to have been declared and given the certificate of return in Nasarawa State!
The APGA Candidate had also tabled a comprehensive report of inspection of election materials showing proofs of irregularities, including vote inflation, uncustomised ballots, mutilated result sheets, illegal cancellation of the results, unsigned ballots, among others to prove APGA’s case against INEC and Governor Tanko Almakura.
Rather than feature any of the witnesses INEC pledged to present in Court today, the Commission just retabled the disputed results it declared on 13th April and abruptly closed its case.
Meanwhile, ex-Information Minister Labaran Maku at a Press briefing yesterday in Abuja commended the actions of the witnesses, whom he claimed were compelled by the fear of God not sell their conscience despite enormous monetary inducement.
Speaking Maku said; “The rural people in Nigeria still have conscience even with money as they are not prepared to lie on oath. It shows that Nigerians could be truthful and have a conscience and that the testimony of his own witnesses to tell the truth in spite of monetary persuasion is the victory I hold dear. I am not going to pre-empt the outcome of the tribunal, but I trust the judges who are of good conscience to do justice.
“You can’t have your own witnesses turn against you and still expect to be declared a winner. Clearly I have proven beyond doubt that I won the election and this has not been disproved by either INEC or Al-Makura. Of course I won the election very clear. We are not expecting a cancellation of the election, but a declaration that we won the elections.”
Speaking more on the issue at hand, the National Secretary of APGA said that unlike the APC, his team were able to present “a factual rendition of the card reader that exposes that most of the areas which returned APC winner were fraudulent, clear over-voting. During the governorship election, in some places no one signed the results, no dates and no official stamps. So what you see is an alteration of results, mutilation and cancellation of results APGA won, over voting for APC, and clear violation of the electoral processes is an indication that APGA won.”
Maku said; “The information we heard is that there are confusion and commotion that the witnesses refused to turn up because they don’t want to lie on oath. It’s now on record that the electoral body that declared Al-Makura the winner could not even bring a single witness to defend its actions. On the other hand, we presented 49 witnesses whose accounts showed that the April 11 elections was won by APGA at the polling unit level, only to be upturned at the collation level. What we have is voter manipulation and in other areas, there was over voting in favour of the APC or cancellation of APGA results. What we did was to hire a certified statistician who reconstructed the authentic results to show that APGA won.”
“After asking for extension, he said, the lawyer failed to testify because most of the Al-Makura’s witnesses failed to show up because they were not prepared to lie “and that became a problem to Al-Makura and their team. Maku said before the tribunal started hearing, APC had “pre-loaded 55 witnesses on oath, but when the first five of them denied the witness statements forced on them by APC and their lawyers they closed their case in less than one hour.”
“APC witnesses denied their own statements, while INEC could not even bring a single one. So by the grace of God and as far as the evidence provided in court is concerned, neither APC nor INEC has been able to dispute our cases in court. So I want to express satisfaction that in the process and proceedings in the court so far. I want to thank the people of Nasarawa State for voting for me, and defending the mandate they gave to APGA,” Maku said.
Meanwhile, following the outcome of the unexpected that happened at the Tribunal, this medium learnt that owing to the confusion and commotion within the camp of the governor, a source told this medium that the Governor quickly brought in some quick damage control method to quell the tension and panic the issue has generated.
One of those measures this medium gathered was the statement credited to the Zonal Coordinating Secretary of the Southern Senatorial District of the PDP, Alhaji Sidi Ndaji who at a press briefing stated that Al-Makura won the April 11 Gubernatorial election in Nasarawa State.
According to a PDP member in the state who pleaded anonymity, told this medium that Ndaji is on his own, and there was no time we told him to go and make such statement.
“In as much we are the PDP are not holding brief for Maku, there was no time the PDP in the state gathered and took this decision that there should be a press briefing to that regard, is obvious that Ndaji statement is his own opinion and he is entitled to it.”
“We know why Ndaji did what he did, there are two things that accounted for it, one is that he did it based on sentiments of religion, while the second one is that we know that the Press briefing he held was a sponsored one, we are aware that Al-Makura must have sponsored it, all in a bid to quell the tension of the outcome of his case at the Tribunal,” the Source said.
“The questions here begging for answers are these, who in Nasarawa that doesn’t know that soon after the election was over on April 11, 2015 Yusuf Agabi congratulated Al-Makura and accepted defeat and the party knows the reasons why it refused to go to the tribunal. Why is it that Ndaji is bringing this issue out again, as if it is a new thing? It is obvious that Ndaji has his own agenda, why he did what he did, and as it is his own personal opinion that he expressed and not the party’s own,” the source told this medium.
It will be recalled that Ndaji while addressing a Press briefing this week at Lafia, said that Governor Almakura won his election squarely in a free and fair contest, prompting the party and its candidate to jettison any idea of going to the tribunal.
He maintained that: “We are baffled that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and its gubernatorial candidate, Mr. Labaran Maku has gone to court when it was obvious that any observer that Governor Almakura won his election overwhelmingly”.
He said the PDP has decided to respect the wishes and choice of the people because doing anything g else would amount to questioning the collective resolve of the people which is not only disrespectful but inimical to the growth of democracy.
The PDP chieftain noted that Mr. Maku only won the governorship election in his local government area, Nasarawa Eggon as against APC’s eleven, insisting that APC’s victory in the 2015 election recorded the highest landslide since the inception of democracy in 1999.
“We in the PDP are calling on the electorates not to play into the whims of desperate politicians, warning that Nasarawa state has endured a turbulent past largely for the same reason and has now come out stronger.”