By Ali Alkali, Kaduna; and Michael Oche, Abuja:

2011: North-East PDP insists on presidency ||  The Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto has fixed Wednesday, February 24, 2010, to deliver judgement in the case between Alhaji Mohammadu Maigari Dingyadi and Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto State. This will finally bring to rest the long disputed Sokoto State gubernatorial election petition which has dragged on for over a year.

The court will be delivering judgement on a case filed by the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) candidate in the governorship rerun in the state, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, against the decision of the Election Petition Tribunal over the qualification of Governor Aliyu Wamakko to contest in the repeat election.

Dingyadi, the DPP candidate, in the Sokoto gubernatorial  rerun is challenging the victory of Governor Wamakko of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the polls as well as his qualification.

While the election tribunal upheld the election of Wamakko, the appeal court, in April 2008, annulled the election of Wamakko and ordered a fresh election.

Wamakko’s election was nullified on grounds that he was not a duly nominated candidate of the PDP as at April 14, 2007, when the election was held.

But the fielding of Wamakko by the PDP as its governorship candidate in the rerun of May 24, 2008, was again challenged in June 2008 by the DPP and its candidate at the tribunal in Sokoto.

The DPP candidate contended that since the Appeal Court had nullified the election of Wamakko as governor, and because he was not a duly nominated candidate of the PDP as at April 14, 2007, he remained disqualified from participating in the election rerun. But the tribunal, in February last year, dismissed the petition. Dissatisfied with the judgement, the DPP candidate filed a case at the Appeal Court in Sokoto.

In a letter of notice served to the counsel of the appellants and respondents, which was signed by the senior registrar of the Court of Appeal of the Sokoto judicial division and obtained by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, the Court of Appeal said it has set aside Wednesday, February 24, 2010, to deliver judgement.

Already, supporters of both Dingyadi and Wammakko have been engaged in a war of words and the judgment is expected to finally calm the tension in the state.

Meanwhile, North-West Zonal Executive Committee of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, had arose yesterday from a day-long meeting in Kaduna insisting on its right of claim for the seat of the nation’s president as per the zoning arrangement of the party, saying, “The party zoned this position to the North and to the North-West zone in particular. It is our tenure; and we are still laying claim to our eight-year tenure, irrespective of the occupant of the seat.”

Among the PDP stalwarts that attended the zonal meeting are governors of Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi states. Other big shots of the party in attendance were Senator Jibril Amin, Alhaji Aliyu Ikira Bilbis, minister of state for Information and Communications and Alhaji Abubakar Rimi among other uncountable dignitaries.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, North-West zonal secretary of the party, Barr. Baba Lawal Aliyu, said, “The slot being occupied by President Umaru Musa Yar’adua is the slot for the North-West zone for tenure of eight years, as per the tradition of the PDP. So, the meeting unanimously agreed to put our total and unflinching support for Mr. President and pray for his quick recovery and return to continue with his work as president of this great nation.

“The appointment of Dr. Jonathan Goodluck as acting president is pending the recovery and return of President Yar’adua. But, we are not unaware of mischief makers who are trying to make a mountain out of mole-hill by capitalizing on the present constitutional circumstances Nigeria finds itself in, and emphasizing on negative issues,” he lamented.

The zonal secretary told the pressmen, “The entire PDP members of the zone at the National Assembly have also agreed to remain steadfast and give their total support and prayers for the recovery of President Yar’adua to come back and continue with his good work and possibly finish his tenure which we are all aware is eight years on zonal basis in PDP tradition.

“We equally reviewed the performance of our party across the seven states in the zone; and we are happy that the party is waxing stronger and stronger by the day as members from other political parties are continuously decamping to PDP en-mass.”

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