Ladipo Johnson, spokesperson for the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), has said that the votes lacking stamps or signatures were presented after the APC had concluded their arguments, preventing the NNPP from thoroughly examining these ballots through cross-examination.
The Kano Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Wednesday, ruled to remove Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf from office and has declared Nasiru Gawuna, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the victor of the March 18 election.
During an interview on ARISE NEWS on Thursday, Johnson said that the “so-called” votes without proper stamps or signatures were tendered after the APC had closed their case, leaving the NNPP with no chance to scrutinise those voting papers through cross-examination.
Following a hearing of the petitions, a three-member panel, via zoom, ordered the revocation of the certificate of return that was initially given to Yusuf by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Instead, they instructed that a certificate of return be given to Gawuna.
The tribunal invalidated 165,663 votes from Yusuf’s total count, deeming them as invalid votes due to missing stamps or signatures on the affected ballot papers.
Johnson stated that if there is no stamp or signature on a ballot paper, referencing Section 63 (2) of the Electoral Act, and the presiding officer believes that it originated from the provided packs of ballot papers, it is permitted, hence, the question arises as to why the agents at those polling units did not reject such ballots.
“All these things give us healthy and robust grounds for appeal,” he said.
He emphasised, “I wasn’t at the tribunal, but I am very confident that we have proper grounds of appeal, and we will take up those grounds.”
According to the spokesman, APC’s argument revolved around alleged incidents of over-voting, violence, and other irregularities in more than a thousand polling units, however, they only presented a total of around thirty witnesses, each of whom had to be affiliated with the specific polling unit in question.
He said, “We’re not saying it’s a perfect situation. I don’t know what complaints our own agents put forward, but I think, substantially, it was done properly, it was announced by INEC, and now, I have this gymnastics that came yesterday via zoom.
“For me, I might understand that maybe the judges felt insecure or there were security reports.
“But I have it on good authority and information, that the judges arrived in Kano, and then they were whisked away in a private jet, and then came by zoom the following day.
So, the people on ground, the average Nigerian, will think there’s something going on.”
When asked about the state of the NNPP, he said that the party is not in total disarray, stating, “The National Working Committee is in place, the national executive is in place.
“Unfortunately for those who seem to want to keep throwing stones at us and cast aspersions, especially those who’ve been suspended and expelled, they did not follow due process. Some of them have gone to court, and we will meet them in court.
“We follow the constitution, we follow the Electoral Act and that is why, with what happened today, it is the National Working Committee of the party that will say ‘please go on appeal.’”
He stated that when problems arise within a party during efforts to rejuvenate it, it is natural for individuals to respond with resistance. Nonetheless, the primary emphasis currently lies on addressing electoral concerns at the forefront.