By Umar Yusuf – Yola
What started as an innocuous comment on a local radio station in Adamawa State has now assumed a serious face-off, putting the first citizen of the State, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri and an opposition figure, Alhaji Husseini Gambol, of the All Progressives Congress, at loggerheads.
In fact, neither the governor nor his accuser had contemplated that this would spiral into a major verbal confrontation, threatening to consume both of them politically and otherwise.
The APC stalwart, Alhaji Gambol had in a programme of a private radio station criticised the governor over the way and manner the palliatives meant to cushion the impact of the raging COVID-19 pandemic were distributed in the state, which he claimed sparked the recent destruction of private and public property in the state.
If Gambol had thought the governor would take the comment he made lightly and move on as one of the normal political issues of the day, he was mistaken.
An aggrieved Governor Fintiri reportedly called Gambol on his mobile phone and threatened to deal with him if he ever mentioned his name on the issue of COVID-19 palliatives.
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The governor, it was learnt, was shocked to his marrow when he suddenly discovered that his phone conversation with the APC stalwart had gone viral, thereby exposing what he said privately to the opposition politician to the global community, a development that attracted immediate widespread condemnation.
Like a whirlwind, the issue soon created ripples within and outside government circles and became the talk of the town for days, prompting the governor and his handlers to distance themselves from the viral material.
The governor even denied ever threatening the APC top shot on the phone, claiming that his conversation with Gambol was ‘doctored’ by his traducers for political gains.
The Director-General Media and Communication to Governor Fintiri, Mr Solomon Kumanga, said the governor, being a humane and God-fearing man could not have issued any threat to the Gambol over a public issue.
The DG described the report as sheer fabrication and a brazen attempt by social media agents of the opposition in the state to mislead the public. In the viral audio clip, Fintiri was heard in Hausa swearing by Allah to deal ruthlessly with Gambol if he didn’t stop mentioning his name in the media.
The governor, who seemed to be brimming with anger from the tone of his voice, promised to use his vantage position to deal with the APC man. “I swear by Allah that I will deal with you ruthlessly if you ever speak about me. I promise that nobody can rescue you from my wrath in Nigeria,” the audio claimed.
During the 39 seconds altercation, the governor repeatedly threatened to deal ruthlessly with the chairman of the Adamawa Concerned Citizen, a pressure and rights group in Adamawa State, if he did not stop mentioning his name.
When the threats became unbearable, Husseini Gambo asked the governor the reasons behind his anger, only to receive more threats.
Disturbed by the controversy generated by the viral audio, a group is known as Adamawa Global Trustees, dragged Gambol to a Magistrate Court sitting in Yola for allegedly defaming the governor and promoting instability in the state.
However, when the case came up for hearing, the presiding Magistrate, Rejoice Dattire, dismissed the case for lack of evidence against the accused person.
The Magistrate ruled that she invoked section 352 sub-section 1 of the Adamawa State Criminal Justice law to dismiss the case.
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to the APC politician, Husseini Gambol, Barrister Desmond Adebole, said the court had no option than to dismiss the case because the complainant failed to show up in court.