Governorship appeal: Sokoto on threshold of history

At last, the Court of Appeal in Sokoto has granted order for service on Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal through substituted service. This has brought back afresh a  more challenging dimension to the PDP governor’s phyrric victory weeks ago. The APC’s counsel, Chief S.U.Nwoke, has already confirmed the court’s action, signaling the return of a fierce legal battle that has kept the people of Sokoto state on edge.

Keen watchers of the controversial election victory of incumbent Governor Tambuwal believe that this is the peak of the Sokoto electorate’s long wait for justice. Elsewhere, someone recently wrote that fairness was itself actually on trial in Sokoto State. A few factors abound to justify this widespread belief that the State’s judiciary was itself on trial.

There has been palpable tension as to where the pendulum would swing, since the Sokoto State Governorship and State Assembly Election Tribunal resumed hearing on the matter. This was preceded by the widespread allegations that the Sokoto Sultanate has been neck-deep in the moves to peddle influence over the case at level of the state tribunal. Two retired judges, one from Zamfara and the other Sokoto-based dominated Nigerian newspaper pages even before the State Elections Petitions Tribunal’s controversial judgement. The civil society made last minute efforts to mobilise public support for its own war against influence-peddling in favor of Governor Tambuwal to no avail. The elements within the Sultanate, who were commissioned to drive the influence-peddling kept mum, as the outcry over  undue interference with the work of the judiciary grew louder by the day.

Expectedly, when the tribunal handed down a judgement in favor of the incumbent governor, there was no street jubilation. The mood was both that of shock and outrage. It was at this point that the spirit of Sokoto electorate went  low.

No one thought that the elements within the Sultanate would avail themselves for use, to skew  judgement in favor of a party that was hanging in the balance, within an APC enclave and with master-strategists like Aliyu Magatakardan Wamakko. No one thought that a state like Sokoto where voters have remained consistent once they cast their lot with a single political party could ever be said to be defeated. It was unheard of. And that is why the narrative of a 342 votes for Tambuwal has, till date, failed to sink in the minds of Sokoto people

The growing outcry of artificial tinkering with original records of election results kept Tambuwal and the PDP on edge.

Now that the APC candidate has filed an appeal against the controversial victory of the incumbent governor, it should not be difficult to see the reawakening of the expectations of Sokoto voters. They are hopeful that in the end justice would definitely be served so rightly for history and posterity.

 As for APC and its governorship candidate, it is an even greater opportunity to fight on. One can deduce, from the new dimension the matter is now assuming, that it would be a fierce battle, a fight-to the – finish. It is obvious that with possibly a new judge now listening to the APC appeal, the opposition party is further emboldened to take the bull by the horn this time around. Though the fear that elements in the Sultanate could resurrect, a glimmer of hope that justice would eventually be served is  glaring. At the heart of this  appeal filed before the court by the governorship candidate of the APC in the 2019 general and supplementary polls, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto and his party is the unprecedented determination by the opposition to create shocks and surprises this time around.

Clearly, the duo are contesting the judgment of the gubernatorial and supplementary elections petitions tribunal, which sat in Sokoto and gave judgment in Abuja, where it upheld the election of Gov. Tambuwal of the PDP on November 5, 2019. Many predicted that it was not over until it’s over

News has gone viral about the fresh moves by elements in the Sokoto Sultanate to try to change the narrative like they proviously did. Only that this time it is unclear whether the hacks in the Sultanate will have yet another opportunity to skew judgment in favour of the incumbent. Unlike the previous experience, public perception of reality this time has itself changed drastically, in favour of fairness, justice and balance. This is largely due to the failure of the initial tricks to stand the test of time, leading to the ongoing appeal by the opposition APC and its governorship candidate.

It is glaring that the hope of a much sought-after fairness and justice is gradually gaining traction. The Sokoto electorate’s expectations of happy moments now dominates the state’s democratic space as the new Appeal by the opposition APC offers a fresh opportunity to right the wrongs of the immediate past and possibly expose the underbelly of the elements in the Sultanate and their paymasters.

Ibrahim writes from Makarfi Road, Rigasa, Kaduna atate.

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