The Nation Newspaper
There is heightened security amid anxiety in some of the states where the Supreme Court judgment is expected today in the dispute over the March 18, 2023 governorship elections.
The court yesterday announced that the appeals on Plateau, Kano, Zamfara, Lagos, Cross Rivers, Bauchi and Ebonyi will be decided today.
The situation is tense, especially in Plateau, Kano and Zamfara.
Supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) are taking different actions in preparation for the D-Day.
The police are also on high alert in these states.
Governors in the eye of the storm are Caleb Muftwang (Plateau), Abba Yusuf (Kano), Dauda Lawal (Zamfara), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi) and Bala Muhammed (Bauchi).
They will either retain their seats today or be booted out.
Police set up water tanks in Jos
In Jos, Police water tanks were observed at strategic places to ward off those who might want to cause trouble.
The APC called its supporters to remain calm, saying “whatever direction the decision of the apex court goes,” would be welcomed.
Also, the state chapter of the PDP asked its supporters to fast and pray for divine victory.
The calls were contained in statements by APC spokesman, Sylvanus Namang and Kefas Sumdi, Personal Assistant to the state PDP Chairman, Chris Hassan.
The statement by Namang reads: “As the Supreme Court sitting in Abuja rules on the Plateau State governorship case on Friday (today), the APC in Plateau State is calling on all its members, supporters and well-wishers to be calm and refrain from any act contrary to our culture of maintaining decorum and peace in all our conducts.
“Whatever direction the decision of the apex court goes, the APC which has been a respecter of the rule of law and a strong believer in our judicial system would welcome the outcome in good faith.
“The APC enjoins security agencies to be extra vigilant to ensure that law and order is maintained.
“The party wishes to restate its position on the respect for constitutionalism and rule of law which are sacrosanct for democracy and good governance.”
Sumdi’s statement reads: “ The Chairman of the PDP, Plateau Chapter, Chris Hassan, has asked our members to offer prayer and hold a fast for a favourable judgment.
“The prayer and fasting became necessary for God to intervene in the litigation battle. God will preserve our mandate.”
Kano residents optimistic
In Kano, APC stakeholders were seen distributing souvenirs, including customised t-shirts and caps, to supporters in anticipation of the party’s victory today.
The action, however, drew the ire of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), which described it as an attempt to blackmail the Supreme Court to get a favourable verdict.
“The blackmail by the APC is a harassment of the judiciary and an attempt to heat the polity. But it will not work,” NNPP’s Acting National Chairman, Abba Ali, said in a statement.
Shortly after the development, the state Police Command Commissioner, Hussaini Gumel, and heads of security agencies met in preparation for the apex court verdict.
Gumel, who assured residents of safety, said the command had put in place measures to enable them(residents) to move about without fear.
He said: “Operational Order spelling out roles of all security personnel had been issued to area commanders, tactical commanders and divisional police officers across the 44 local government areas of the state.
“We have mobilised sufficient armed personnel to provide security at all flashpoints, including political party offices, Government House, INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) headquarters, banks, commercial areas, mosques, churches, recreation centres and motor parks before, during and after the judgment.
“I am giving 100 per cent assurance to all law-abiding residents of the state to go about freely with their legitimate daily activities without threat to lives and property.”
He added that armed security personnel would be in all identified strategic locations to carry out surveillance duties and provide physical security during and after the judgment.
Gumel called on all residents to cooperate with security personnel and share information on any person or group planning to forment trouble.
Police ban gatherings in Zamfara
In Zamfara, the police banned political gatherings and deployed patrol vans in some hot spots in Gusau, the state capital.
Chairman of the state chapter of APC, Tukur Danfulani, advised party members and supporters to be calm and law-abiding during and after the judgment.
Danfulani appreciated the manner “our supporters have been conducting themselves even when they are provoked”.
He added: “We are calling on all our party supporters, especially the Youth Wing to remain law abiding and be prayerful for the success of the APC.”
‘Otu will win’
Cross River State, Acting Publicity Secretary of the APC, Edem Inyang, expressed confidence that Otu would retain his position.
“We are confident that the Supreme Court will concur with the justices of the lower courts,” he said.
The situation was calm in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, with residents going about their normal businesses.
Some residents expressed the view that Nwifuru would once again triumph.
The spokesperson for the Police Command, Joshua Ukandu, said: “We can’t disclose our plans but rest assured that we shall coordinate with other security agencies to ensure security in all parts of the state before, during and after the verdict.”