The Senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, Senator Shehu Sani, has faulted the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hire A.U. Mustapha and Co to serve as its counsel in the ongoing election petition tribunal in Kaduna state.
Sani, who contested the 2019 general elections under the platform of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), said that he was kicking against the choice of the counsel, because he is the personal counsel to Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who is also a party at the tribunal.
“INEC has decided to hire Governor el-Rufai’s personal lawyer as their counsel; it is suspicious.
“He is the one defending Gov el-Rufai in a case of defamation which he filed against me in four courts in Kaduna state.
“He is a personal lawyer of el-Rufai, but now being hired by INEC in a case where el-Rufai is a party. A.U. Mustapha is also standing for el-Rufai Vs Union Newspaper and Gabriel Idibia. He has been his personal lawyer; for over 15 years, it is A.U. Mustapha who represents el-Rufai in court.
“How ethical is it for INEC that says it has conducted free and fair election to hire the services of a personal lawyer of a governor who himself is a party in court,” he submitted.
Senator Sani said that in view of the life span of the tribunal which is just 90 days, they are not going to challenge the legality of INEC hiring the lawyer, but to bring to public notice on why should INEC of all the lawyers, hire el-Rufai’s lawyer.
“We are going to prove our case in court and the massive rigging perpetrated, we will prove our case,” he said.
He stressed that Nigeria’s democracy can only thrive when the electoral system is free and fair.
“Our democracy can only thrive with electoral system that ensures free and fair credible elections through which leadership that can claim integrity emerges,” he said.
The Senator emphasized that the NASS Assembly election that produced the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner was marred with irregularly.
“The election from the onset was geared towards removing some of us and installing a stooge and lackey.
“The best place to contest result is a tribunal and we have done that. Integrity is founded on leadership through lawful and legitimate process. Election that took place in Kaduna was neither free, fair nor credible,” he said.
The state INEC Administrative Secretary, Muhammad Auwalu Mashi, while reacting to the Senator’s claim said only Abuja headquarters of the commission can respond to the Senator’s claims.
He said he doesn’t know if the commission has Shehu Sani’s claims in writing.