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Opposition Parties Petition Reveals the Dangerous Side of Umar Yar'adua

February 15, 2008
The Chairman,
National Electoral Reform Committee

Dear Sir,


1.    On 29th May 2007, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, in his presidential inaugural speech, acknowledged that the 2007 General Elections were flawed due to the massive irregularities that accompanied the elections.  He promised to setup an Electoral Reform Committee which would make comprehensive suggestions on how to reform the electoral system in Nigeria.  This led to the setting up of your Committee with clearly spelt out Terms of Reference.  We, the Katsina State Chapter of the Coalition of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) have no quarrel with the setting up of your Committee.  However, so many of such Commissions have been formed in the past and far reaching decisions issued in Government white papers on the reports they submitted, but in most cases nothing positive was achieved because of lack of political will on the part of the leadership that set them up.  We believe that, it is only when the leadership is honest, disciplined, conscientious and committed to the improvement of the welfare of their people that Electoral Reform or any other policy for that matter will succeed.  We would have thought that what was required on the issue of the Electoral Reform was an attitudinal change on the part of all Nigerians more especially the leaders.  However, it is necessary to give you the benefit of the doubt that your recommendations will make a difference and we sincerely wish you the best of luck.

2.    To succeed and we believe you want to; you should take Katsina State as a test case.  We of the CNPP, Katsina State Chapter know as a fact that President Yar’adua has never been a product of legitimacy.  In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Primary Elections of 1999, he was rigged into being the flag bearer in the gubernatorial elections and subsequently in the election proper.  So the story since then has never been different but in fact matters have worsened progressively to an unprecedented scale.  In the electoral history of Katsina State since the days of the Sardauna in the 1960s, voters were never deprived of the right to vote a candidate of their choice. They have never been so brutalized also by security agents and government employed thugs.  Katsina State used to be a very peaceful state where political violence was non-existent prior to the coming of Governor Yar’adua into power.  Political campaigns and elections were conducted peacefully and in certain cases winners were congratulated by the losers.  To give an insight into the magnitude of the problem we take the following examples:

a)    In the April 2003 General Elections, top Federal and State Government officials went about in company of armed soldiers and police on the election days harassing and ordering the beating of anybody who tried to stop them from stuffing ballot boxes with illegally thumb printed ballot papers.  Heavily armed PDP thugs also went about disrupting voting at polling centres and stuffed already thumb printed ballot papers in the boxes and severely dealt with anybody who resisted their unlawful actions. Several people were murdered and others seriously wounded in the process.  Mallam Abubakar Bala Rawayau was shot and killed while Mallam Shehu Kabir was wounded in Kankara town by soldiers.  A written complaint was made to the police but no action was taken by them.  Many more were humiliated through unlawful arrests and detention.  We hold President (then Governor) Yar’adua directly responsible for the deaths, harassment and humiliation of the affected people.

b)    After consolidating power in early 2003, Governor Yar’adua embarked on the systematic destruction of democratic structures.  In the bye-election into the Katsina State House of Assembly for Malumfashi Local Government Area held on 29th November, 2003, the PDP Government was said to have planned the assassination of prominent All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) members in the state.  To achieve this objective, the PDP Government mobilized security agents and political thugs imported from neigbouring states.  Hon. Hadi Sirika, then an ANPP member of House of Representatives, was violently attacked and nearly killed at Dayi.  The attack was masterminded and supervised by Hon. Abdulkadir Zakka, then a PDP member of the House of Assembly.  The whole episode took place in the presence of nearly 100 security agents who just watched.  Engineer Muttaka Rabe then a Commissioner in Governor Yar’adua’s Government physically assaulted an agent of The Network for Justice, an independent election monitor.  A written complaint was made to the police but no action was taken by them.  Several members and agents of the opposition political parties were similarly attacked and maimed in the various wards where PDP thugs barricaded major routes.  Government officials with the assistance of political thugs, security agents and INEC officials openly subverted the will of the people by confiscating ballot boxes and stuffing them with illegal ballot papers in favour of the PDP.  The opposition political parties were left with no option but to withdraw from the election in view of obvious election malpractices and illegalities that were taking place.

c)    Governor Yar’adua illegally created 68 Local Governments, appointed Caretaker Committees and held what he described as Local Government elections on 27th March, 2004.  Before the election, PDP candidates were about campaigning with thugs heavily armed with dangerous weapons without any hindrance from the security agencies.  In fact they were even aided by them in many instances.  Many people were injured and a lot of property was lost.  For example, the case of full scale burning of houses in Karadua Village of Matazu Local Government Area by PDP thugs under the leadership of Dr. Garba Matazu a member of the House of Representatives then a close confident of Gov. Yar’adua.  Over 30 houses including that of the ANPP Chairmanship candidate Alhaji Hussaini Adamu Karadua were burnt.  A written complaint was made to the police but no action was taken by them.  On Election Day, election materials, specifically ballot boxes and ballot papers, did not reach most of the polling units.  Similar violence was unleashed on the populace and the electoral officials who were their collaborators took ballot boxes and ballot papers to designated hideouts where they were thumb printed and then taken back to the Collation Centres for recording.  Favoured candidates I(PDP candidates) were then declared as winners.  A press conference was addressed by us immediately after the election where we rejected the results and condemned Gov. Yar’adua’s double standard and hypocrisy where he was preaching justice, peace and orderliness in the election over radio on Election Day while his thugs were unleashing mayhem on the people in the streets.

d)    Subsequently, the illegal 68 Local Government were dissolved and another election was conducted on 18th December, 2004.  There was no let on the violence and the same fraud was organized as elections.  It is for this reason that the ANPP who in April 2003 General Elections were able to win two Senatorial seats, seven House of Representatives seats and eleven House of Assembly seats but in this election was allocated only  Daura Local Government Area.  Other election misconduct was raised to the highest level, to the extent that a respected newspaper published an editorial condemning the conduct of the election and called it a sham.

e)    Similarly, during the Katsina State House of Assembly bye-election for Katsina Local Government held on 19th February, 2005, a state of siege was declared in Katsina.  Thugs took over the town and the police went about sounding their sirens scaring away intending voters.  There was therefore very low turn out.  Heavily armed PDP thugs waylaid the election materials convoys for Wakilin Yamma I, Wakilin Yamma II, Wakilin Arewa A, Wakilin Arewa B, Shinkafi A and Shinkafi B Wards.  The materials were taken to secret hideouts where they were thumb printed and later surfaced at the Ward Collation centres.  Election materials that were allowed to reach the voting centres in the rest of six Wards because of the heavy presence of the opposition political parties, were later snatched by government  employed thugs.  They met a lot of resistance from the people.  There was a bloodbath at Gobarau Primary School where many people were seriously wounded.  A written complaint  was made to the police but no action was taken by them.  To our greats surprise a heavy turn out was recorded and the PDP candidates was declared the winner.

f)    The misconduct of the 2007 General Elections was a notorious fact throughout the world, however, the Katsina State experience was the worst in the country.  In the turn up to the elections, Governor Yar’adua ordered the arrest of the Chairman of the ANPP in the State, Dr. Yusha’u armiya’u and the ANPP Senatorial candidate of Katsina Central from where the Governor hails, Alhaji Mannir Yakubu, Hon (Dr.) Tukur Nadabo, ANPP House of Representatives candidate for Bakori/Danja Federal Constituency, Dr. Mansur Abdulkadir, ANPP House of Representatives candidate for Funtua/Dandume Federal Constituency, Alhaji Ahmadu Abdullahi, and Alhaji Abu Jikamshi, ANPP House of Representatives candidate for Musawa/Matazu Federal Constituency.  The most shocking was that of Alhaji Mannir Mu’azu, ANPP House of Representatives candidate for Batsari/Safana/DanMusa Federal Constituency who was arrested on the eve of the election while holding a meeting with his polling agents.  The polling agents were first flogged by the soldiers attached to Abba Sayyadi Ruma, the present Minister of Agriculture who was then a Minister of State in the Ministry of Education.  Alhaji Mannir Mu’azu was not released until a week after the election.  In addition, over 600 of ANPP supporters and co-ordinators were unjustifiably arrested and incarcerated in the most inhumane conditions, in overcrowded police cells.  Many lives were lost and property destroyed in the elections.  For example, Mallam Ibrahim Yakubu was killed and Malam Maikudi Bello was wounded at Tittike Village, Boko ward in Kusada Local Government Area by soldiers on the orders of the then PDP Executive Chairman of the Local Government Area, Alhaji Abdussamadu Yusuf.  A written complaint was made to the police but no action was taken by them.

    Furthermore, all other opposition parties suffered similar persecution from the PDP ruling party, its organs and agents in virtually all the local government areas.  The Action Congress Party (AC) for example, in its letter of complaints to the Katsina State Resident Electoral Commissioner INEC dated 24th April, 2007, reported a shooting spree organized by the PDP in several locations across the state.  One example was in Sandamu Local Government where thugs, led by the PDP Local Government chairman, Alhaji Sani Sabo, killed three people.  One of those killed was identified as Hassan Sallau.  The matter was reported to the police in Daura, but nothing was heard of it again.  Ballot box snatching and stuffing them with already thumb printed ballot papers was perpetrated by PDP thugs and agents in all the Local Government areas.  These details were meticulously recorded in the party’s report to INEC referred to above.  On the whole, the   AC’s report recorded planned emasculation of opposition parties in both the 2007 General Elections, subverting the peoples’ right to exercise their franchise by non-supply of voting materials to many wards, use of underage children to vote in favour of the PDP and use of state machinery to arrest and detain opposition members.  Those detained included Alhaji Ahmadu Abdullahi AC House of Representative candidate for Funtua/Dandume Federal Constituency, as well as the party’s chairman for Dandume Alhaji Sallau Arawa and several of their supporters.

g)    The latest is the bye-election of the Batsari/Safana/DanMusa Federal Constituency which took place on 26th January, 2008 after the inauguration of your Committee and you had already commenced work.  This elections shows convincingly that President Yar’adua does not take the issue of the reform on the Electoral System seriously because of the unprecedented violence that was visited on the people in the Constituency.  All the Chairmen of the Transitional Committees of the 34 Local Governments in the State were direcrted to mobilize ten truck loads each of armed thugs and accompany them to the various wards in this Constituency.  All of them reported to the wards on the eve of the election.  In addition to this, the Constituency was placed under siege by the police and became like an occupied territory.  This was the situation under which the election was purported to have taken place.  Is this the kind of reform Mr. President is intending to brig to the nation as he has practiced in his home State?

3.    This is a graphic situation which as mentioned above still exists in Katsina State.  Furthermore, for all these atrocities, maiming and killings not a single person has been arrested and prosecuted.  It is also under this sorry state that we are called upon by the State ‘Independent’ Electoral Commission to participate in forthcoming Local Government Elections to be held on 1st March, 2008.  What assurances does the CNPP have that what happened a few days ago during the bye-election of the Batsari/Safana Dam Musa Federal Constituency will not be repeated?  Though we have been reliably informed that President Yar’adua has been ‘magnanimous’ this time around by allocating the following Local Governments to the opposition namely; Funtua, Jibia, Kaita and Daura.  It might interest you to note, that the Chairman of this so called State Independent Electoral Commission, Alhaji Bawale Bala, acted as if he was the chief Coordinator of the Yar’adua Presidentia Campaign in the Katsina State in the last election, by placing several pages of advertisement material in major national dailies.  How can this personbe impartial?  How can he not do President Yar’adua’s bidding?

4.    We of the CNPP believe that your major task should begin by sending a high powered Sub-Committee to Katsina State to see the preparations being made by the State ‘Independent’ Electoral Commission and also monitor the election proper.  It is only when you adjudge this election to satisfy the Regional Minimum Standard (not even the International Standard) that you will take your work seriously.  It is clear therefore that this election will be a litmus test as to whether your assignment will be necessary or not.  We extend this invitation to you, so as to observe the whole process in the coming polls.  Study the electoral law drawn by Gov. Yar’adua which contains many breaches of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria, monitor the campaigns and the election (whether arrangement has been made for secret ballot) including collating and announcement of results.  We implore you to send your representatives to all the 34 Local Government Areas (if possible to all the polling units in the state some 5000 of them).  Your representatives should observe the actions of close political associates of President Yar’adua; Alhaji Dahiru Mangal and Eng Muttaka Rabe in Katsina Local Government area, Speaker Ya’u Gwajogwajo in Mai’adua Local Government Area, Majigili and Tasi Elder in Mashi Local Government area.  Sani Sabo and DanAngo in Sandamu Local Government Area, Alhaji Lado Danmarke inj Kankara Local Government Area, Shehu Inuwa Imam in Faskari Localo Government Area, Alhaji Aminu Makera in Dutsinma Local Government Area, Dr. Mustapha Inuwa in Dan Musa Local Government Area, Abdulkuddusu Maigemu in Zango Local Government Area and several others that we cannot have space to mention.  We further request you to stay a little bit more after the election to see the show of shame at the Election Tribunals.  No doubt, you will come to know that no court in Katsina can deliver a verdict against President Yar’adua’s party.  We attach herewith the Timetable of activities issued by the Katsina State ‘Independent’ Election Commission for your perusal.

5.    We of the CNPP intend to contest all the posts in the elections in all the Local Government areas, since declining to do so will amount to betrayal of our people and surrender to tyranny.  We are also confident we shall overcome since the majority of the electorate are behind us.  Furthermore, our consolation is that no dictator has prevailed for all time in Nigeria.  Chief Obasanjo is the latest example and when such dictators fall they fall hard, disgraced and alone.

6.    Finally, we of the CNPP, Katsina State Chapter, plan to appeal to the International Community not to consider the forth-coming election in Katsina as a local affair.  It is a test case as to whether President Yar’adua is sincere about his repeated pledge on the survival of democracy, observance of the rule of law and due process.  We recall that even last week he harped on this theme in far away Davos, Switzerland.  The International Community must have an interest in the forth-coming Local Government elections in the state.  To regard this election as a local affair is to ignore the happenings in Kenya where thousand are being killed or maimed, properties destroyed and hundreds of thousands have become refugees in their homeland.  If this is allowed to happen in this country the entire West African Sub-region will be destabilized with many countries becoming failed states because of the millions of people that will be refugees.

7.    Thank you and God Bless.

Cc:    President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, The Presidency, Aso Rock  Villa, Abuja
    The Senate President, NASS Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja
    All Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties, Abuja
    The American Ambassador, Embassy of the USA, Abuja  
    The British High Commissioner, Embassy of the UK, Abuja
    The German Ambassador, Embassy of Germany, Abuja
    The Canadian Ambassador, Embassy of Canada, Abuja
    The Representative, EU Mission, Abuja
    The Representative, UN Mission, Abuja
    The Representative, AU Mission, Abuja
    The Representative, ECOWAS Mission, Abuja
    The President, Nigerian Labour Congress, Abuja
    The President, Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja
    The President, ASUU
    Transition Monitoring Group, Abuja
    The Representative, IRI, Abuja
    The President, CAN
    Nigerian Catholic Mission, Abuja
    The President JNI, Kaduna
    The Supreme Council for Sharia, Kaduna
    African Indepdent Television, Abuja
    Nagarta Radio, Kaduna
    DITV, Kaduna
    Freedo Radio Kano
    BBC, Abuja
    VOA, Abuja
    DW, Abuja
    Radio France
    The Daily Trust, Abuja
    The Leadership, Abuja
    ThisDay, Abuja
    The Guardian, Abuja
    The Sun, Abuja
    The Punch, Abuja
    The Vanguard, Abuja

Yours faithfully,

The undersigned Katsina State Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties:

1.    Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji
    State Chairman, Movement for Democracy and Justice

2.    Alhai Sa’adu Saulawa,
    State Chairman, Alliance for Democracy

3.    Alhaji Lawal Ashiru,
    State Chairman, APGA

4.    Alhaji Ibrahim Na-Bakori,
    State Chairman, Peoples Redemption Party

5.    Dr. Yusha’u Armiya’u
    State Chairman, all Nigeria Peoples Party

6.    Alhaji Saminu Yusuf, State Chairman, PPA
7.    Senator Abba Ali, State Chairman, AC
8.    Mohammed Daurama, State Chairman, UNPP
9.    Alhaji Lawal kiri, State Chairman, Peoples Salvation Party
10.    Alhaji Ibrahim Namama, State Chairman DPP

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