warns VP Kashim Shettima to steer clear of Religious politics
In a dramatic turn of events following the recent Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal’s verdict, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has strongly criticized attempts to infuse religious dimensions into the outcome.
HURIWA, in a statement on Friday, recalled that the tribunal had nullified the election of incumbent Governor Abdullahi Sule from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declared David Ombugadu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the March 18, 2023, governorship election in the state.
“Delivering the judgment virtually, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ezekiel Ajayi, declared Ombugadu as the lawfully elected governor of Nasarawa State. The twist in this political saga seems to arise from the fact that Ombugadu is the sole Christian among the candidates who vied for the position, while the others are Muslims.
The statement signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, however, emphasized that the election result was a reflection of the collective will of Nasarawa State’s diverse population, which includes traditionalists, Christians, and Muslims, who exercised their democratic right to vote without regard to religious affiliations.
While expressing deep concern over allegations that Governor Abdullahi Sule’s camp is promoting a false narrative that portrays the tribunal’s verdict as an attempt by Christians to take control of the governorship seat, which has been held by Muslims for the past 21 years in Nasarawa State, HURIWA strongly refuted this depiction, labeling it inaccurate and a dangerous attempt to sow religious discord where none exists.
Furthermore, HURIWA frowned at disturbing reports suggesting efforts by Abdullahi Sule’s camp to influence the Appeal Court and subsequently the Supreme Court in the event the case progresses to that level. Also, HURIWA has it from sources that the Country’s Vice President Kashim Shettima is allegedly involved in the attempt to weave Islamic sentiments into the Nasarawa State governorship litigation by allegedly attempting to mobilise Islamic leaders and top judicial officers in Abuja to scuttle the judgment of the Nasarawa governorship election petition tribunal which returned the verdict that indeed the PDP won just as the Rights group wondered why the VP who is from Borno state is allegedly being linked to such a sinister plot to divide the good people of Nasarawa State which happens to be one of the most religiously diverse subnational entity with Muslims, Christians, traditional African Religion cohabiting as one and the same families. We urge the VP, the governor, the Emir of Lafia and His Excellency the Sultan of Sokoto who is well regarded for his objectivity, not to dabble into partisan politics or drag their high offices into religious and political bigotry.
“These purported attempts involve reaching out to influential religious figures, including the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, and leveraging the influence of the Emir of Lafia, Sidi Bage, a former Supreme Court judge.
“Nasarawa State, known for its religious diversity, has a history of tolerance and unity among its people, regardless of religious backgrounds. The introduction of religious dimensions into a political matter in such a harmonious society is deeply troubling and could have severe repercussions”.
Therefore, HURIWA warned all stakeholders, including religious leaders and traditional rulers, to refrain from interfering in the judicial process. The association urged them to uphold the rule of law and permit the courts to make determinations based on the evidence presented before them: “In a democratic society, the law should always take precedence over sentiments and religious biases.
“The importance of Nasarawa State receiving a transparent, equitable, and unbiased resolution to this election dispute, devoid of divisive elements, cannot be overemphasized. HURIWA stands unwavering in its commitment to safeguarding the rights of all Nigerians and ensuring that justice prevails without bias”.
*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko*
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).