…Says Ombugadu remains Nasarawa’s Governor
By Eunice Orike
Following recent visa bans on Nigerian citizens, the International community has been urged by Civil Liberties Organisation, including 11 Powerful countries to immediately impose strict sanctions on Governor of Nasarawa state, Abdulahi Sule and Professor Ishaya Tanko for their roles in the March 18th gubernatorial elections in Nasarawa state.
President of the CLO, Comrade Igho Akeregha and Executive Director, Ibuchukwu Ezike, at a press conference in Abuja, warned that it was time to rein in anti-democratic elements, who are bent on sabotaging Nigeria’s democracy with impunity.
The CLO said the organisation has formally sent petitions to the governments of the United States of America, the UK, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, China, Saudi Arabia, Australia , South Africa and the European Union through their Embassies in Nigeria, requesting the immediate imposition of sanctions and visa ban on Nasarawa state Governor Abdullahi Sule and Prof. Ishaya Tanko, Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Plateau State for their roles in manipulating and subverting the governorship election results of March 18th 2023 in Nasarawa state.
Also the CLO noted that once judgment was given by the Election Petitions Tribunal nullifying the return of Sule as the state’s by the Independent National Electoral Commission and declaring Hon. David Ombugadu of the People’s Democratic Party as winner of the elections, the governor has allegedly been making statements capable of “undermining the sanctity and independence of the judiciary and capable of threatening the unity of the country.”
According to them, the gubernatorial election in the state afforded Nasarawa people the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights to elect leaders of their choice in accordance with democratic tenets but Governor Sule who has challenged the judgment on Appeal is resorting to self-help through his utterances instead of waiting for the courts to decide his fate.
The CLO berated Prof Ishaya Tanko, the INEC Returning Officer for Nasarawa state, who declared the results in favour of Governor Sule which has now been reversed by the Tribunal.
“For us in the CLO and in accordance with our Democracy and Governance mandate, it is time to hold politicians and INEC officials who behave inappropriately to account for their actions. Bad behaviour cannot be rewarded with public office. Impunity must now be put down and perpetrators brought to justice. The international community must act now to save democracy,” the group said.
The CLO also disclosed that Gov. Sule of the All Progressives Congress, APC was one of the four candidates in the Governorship Elections for Nasarawa state including Hon. David Ombugadu of the People’s Democratic Party PDP.
Others were Yakubu Maidoya of the New Nigeria People’s’ Party NNPP, and Mustapha Abubakar of the Social Democratic Party SDP.
The statement read in part, “A day after the election on March 19, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission had promised to declare the result of the governorship poll at 9am the following day which is March 20, 2023.
“However, for inexplicable reasons, the State Returning Officer, Professor Tanko Ishaya, the Vice Chancellor of University of Jos emerged five hours earlier than promised at 4am while most people were still asleep and declared APC’s Sule winner. According to Prof Ishaya, APC’s Sule polled 347,209 votes to defeat PDP’s David Ombugadu whom he claimed scored 283,016 votes.
“This was followed by days of public rage and protests as the electorates accused Prof Ishaya of manipulating the results.
“Nasarawa state witnessed widespread turbulence over what the electorates saw as a rape of democracy.
Everyone had expected Ombugadu to be declared as winner since he was leading with an unassailable margin in all the 12 of the 13 local government areas announced at the time with results of only two Wards being awaited from the 13th LGA being Lafia.
“But while providing the breakdown for Lafia LGA, Prof. Ishaya falsely and deliberately claimed that Sule polled 107, 213 votes against Ombugadu’s 41, 494, a difference of 57,619 votes.
The group further noted that as a democrat and peace loving Politician, David Ombugadu appealed to the aggrieved electorates to remain calm while he took his case to the Nasarawa State Elections Petition Tribunal.
“In the landmark judgment by the Tribunal on Monday October 2nd, 2023, the Tribunal dismissed the fraudulent results announced by Prof Tanko Ishaya and the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, for Lafia Local Government Area and declared that David Ombugadu indeed won the election.
He went on to state that the Tribunal ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return earlier awarded the All Progressives Congress APC, candidate, Abdullahi Sule, and handed same over to Ombugadu
It was established during trial at the Tribunal how Governor Sule managed to poll 78,586 votes in Gayam and Ciroma Wards in Lafia LGA when, according to INEC election records, both wards had only 34,000 accredited voters.
Therefore, the CLO demanded that appropriate sanctions should be meted to all individuals who played a role in subverting elections in the state to deepen and sustain democracy in the country.
The group maintained that Nigeria is the biggest black democracy in the World and the most populated black nation on earth adding, that the country needs the support of the international community for its democracy to survive.
It warned that the current reign of impunity by election riggers and manipulators must be put to an end if African nations will not be driven to seek alternative governance models.
However, the CLO reaffirmed it’s faith in democracy as the best form of government that should be encouraged and supported by all.