*Insist Rule Of Law must be respected
*Say vote of every Nigerian must count
*Forum describes Appeal Court judgment in favour of APC as clear miscarriage of Justice.
*Express concern over independence of judiciary
By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Worried by what they termed as contradictory verdict of the Appeal Court in its judgment of the Kano State 2023 gubernatorial polls, 200 lawyers from the 19 states of Northern Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Sunday December 3, converged on Kaduna to express concerns, urging that the rule of law should be obeyed to ensure votes of every Nigerian counts during elections.
Speaking on behalf of the lawyers under the auspices of Abba Kabir Yusuf Volunteer Lawyers Forum For The 19 – Northern States And Abuja at a press conference at Arewa House, Kaduna on Sunday, Barrister Yusuf Ado Ibrahim, Chairman Northern Volunteer Lawyers, urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Supreme Court should not allow Nigeria become a one party state as it is an unhealthy democratic practice.
“Historically, going by the antecedent of or dear country Nigeria, our past leaders like Sir Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory and others have always respected the rule of law and democracy and it is based on this that we call and appeal to our President, H.E Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the judiciary to save our democracy and ensure the votes of the electorate as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
This is not unconnected to the fact that the good people of Kano have voted massively in favour of H.E Abba Kabir Yusuf so as to allow him carry on the good work his predecessors have started in Kano State,” the group said.
The group at the briefing, also demanded a reworking of the Electoral Act.
“It is pertinent to state here that the Electoral Act needs a holistic reworking in order to address these anomalies of our judicial system and democracy, if we must save it. Pre-election matters must be seen to be addressed as no longer litigable issues after the winner of an election has been declared.
“The issues are too numerous to mention. But we are all seated here believing in the strong will of a free and fair judicial system. We believe honestly in the powers of true democratic system and are still optimistic in the judicial system so much so that we admit the fallibility of our justices as humans. We are hopeful that the apex Court would do the right thing devoid of any sentiments and paying able and competent attention to happenings of the just delivered judgments.
“It is our optimism that the lot of the common man in Kano State will be protected and the yearnings of our people respected. We strongly believe that the Apex Court will do justice by affirming and categorically stating that the duly elected governor of Kano State is His Excellency Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf, whose adequate votes were casted by the populist approval of the people of Kano State.
“And on this hope, we volunteer as private legal practitioner across the 19 Northern States of this Country to participate in Solidarity for His Excellency Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, to represent the Truth in the fight to reclaim his mandate and that of the people of Kano State.
“We have all seen, for those of us that have read the Judgment, how the final closing decision of the leading Judge in this case, specifically at page 67 where 5 paragraphs were contradictory, one after another. These cannot be an oversight. If it is a mistake as they have stated, it is indeed an unforgivable one.
“We passionately and respectfully call on the Supreme Court to resist any form of external interference either from the Executive or any other body to protect the image of the judiciary and uphold the rule of law,” the group they appealed.
“We depend upon a system that is clearly set to bring us to an inevitable end. Almost every judgment or decision will be replete with traces of unimaginable conclusions. Truth be told, you are no longer sure of the outcome of the courts decisions in this country even if you are a legal practitioner no matter how knowledgeable you may be,” the group lamented.
The forum expressed worries that recent judgment handed down by the honourable justices of the Court of Appeal siting in Abuja between Abba Kabir Yusuf (the duly elected governor of Kano State) and the APC is a clear miscarriage of Justice.
“This is my humble opinion, even though it might not necessarily be the popular opinion.
“The first trace of this error by the Honourable Justices started with the disposition of the trial tribunal, when on the date of the Court’s judgment, it avoided a full court and open hearing of its judgment while resorting to the nature of mistrusted venture by rendering the decisions of the Court via internet.
Fielding questions from newsmen, another member, Barrister Usman Ashafa, said that the contradictory judgment of the Appeal Court leaves much to be desired.
He said the errors discovered in the CTC in five paragraphs is unforgivable in law.