By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hire A.U. Mustapha and Co to serve as its counsel in the ongoing elections petition tribunal in Kaduna State has been expressly frowned at.
Senator representing Kaduna Central District, Distinguished Senator Shehu Sani expressed this at his residence in Kaduna on Monday April 15, 2019 during a press briefing.
The Senator that 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 Nadir el-Rufai, who is also a party at the tribunals.
“INEC has decided to hire Governor el-Rufai’s personal lawyer as their counsel. It is suspicious and it proves governor of the state and INEC using A.U. Mustapha and Co, who remains personal lawyer of Gov el-Rufai.
“He is the one defending Gov el-Rufai in a case of defamation which he filed against me in four courts in Kaduna State.
“As a personal lawyer of el-Rufai 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.
Shehu 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 that 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 stressed 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 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 or credible,” he said.