By Dapo Akinrefon, Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo, LAGOS
Leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have expressed worry that the prospect of presenting a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2023 has become a thorn in the flesh of the party, Vanguard has learned.
This is even as former Special Adviser to Kaduna State governor on Islamic Matters and Hajj, Sheikh Haliru Maraya, yesterday, noted that those promoting the idea of a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian presidential ticket do not wish the country well.
It came on a day the Tinubu Support Organization, TSO, consulted with critical stakeholders of the APC in the North-West and endorsed Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna State as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s running mate.
A source privy to meetings on the choice of Tinubu’s running mate, said a Muslim-Muslim ticket remained a thorny issue in APC, disclosing that members of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, PGF, are pushing hard for one of their own to emerge as running mate to Tinubu.
The source said: “As regards the governors insisting on Tinubu picking one of them, it is give and take, given the role of the Progressive Governors’ Forum. It is not impossible that one of the governors will get it.
“The choice of the running mate is not entirely the decision of the candidate. He will have his preferences and then, look at some of the factors. So, if the governors say they want it and he knows the role of the governors, he might have to listen to them. Wisdom dictates that so many tendencies have to be carried along.
“Don’t forget that the governors wanted one of them to be the presidential candidate but it was their influence that produced the candidate.”
On the controversy trailing the Muslim-Muslim ticket, the source said it remains a herculean task before the party.
“A Muslim-Muslim ticket is a major issue. The northerners will not allow a northern Christian to be the running mate because that will be like scheming them out of power.
“They will not give it to a northern Christian, they will insist on a northern Muslim. Once you pick a northern Christian, forget it, they are no longer with you and that is the way the northerners do their thing.
“If Tinubu chooses a Northern Christian, he will lose the support of the Northern Muslims and that will be a major setback. Whoever emerges is someone that is acceptable across board but it is apparent that it will be a Muslim-Muslim ticket and even at that, it has to be a strong person,” the source said.
Promoters of Muslim-Muslim ticket don’t wish Nigeria well —Sheikh
Similarly, a Kaduna-based cleric, Sheikh Maraya, faulted those promoting a Muslim-Muslim ticket, describing it as a disheartening commentary.
The Islamic scholar in a statement, entitled ‘Islamic View On Same-faith Presidential Ticket in Today’s Nigeria, said: “I wonder what the country would be should the various agitations in the land assume a religious dimension.
“No religion has the monopoly of qualified people who have the capacity to serve as running mates to presidential candidates if merit should be the parameter for the nomination of running mates.”
The statement read: “I don’t think there is a Muslim who will support a Christian-Christian presidential ticket. Undoubtedly, the Muslims would cry out for the perpetration of injustice against them.”
“Nigeria is a multi-religious country of more than 200 million people who are Muslims and non-Muslims. Hence, one can say that the country is owned by more than 200million citizens who are of diverse religious background. In order to be just to all the citizens of the country, and also to balance the apparent religious sentiments prevalent in the country, Nigeria’s politicians and its major political parties have avoided fielding same-faith presidential candidates since the present political dispensation from 1999.
“In any event, the combination of people of different religious background, on a presidential ticket, appears to give vent to the constitutional requirement that the composition of the Federal Government and its agencies should reflect the federal character of the country, and the need to promote national unity, thereby ensuring that there is no predominance of sectional groups in the government, as enshrined in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.
“The combination of a Muslim and non-Muslim, in a presidential ticket, in Nigeria of today, also gives vent to the spirit of justice, fairness and equity as enshrined in the religion of Islam. Remember, the country is for the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The religion of Islam orders the sincere administration of justice, on all, regardless of any distinction, be it religious, ethnic, geographical, tribal, inter alia.
The religion enjoins its adherents to always stand for justice as a matter of principle, whether for Muslims or non-Muslims, even if justice should side against them.
“I don’t think there is a Muslim who will support a Christian-Christian presidential ticket. Undoubtedly, the Muslims would cry out for the perpetration of injustice against them. Hence, it’s wrong for a Muslim to support a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket as it is at variance with the spirit of justice which the religion of Islam promotes and defends at all times.”
Besides, he said: “Those promoting the idea of a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian presidential ticket, in today’s Nigeria, do not wish the country well especially now that it is divided along religious fault lines. I wonder what the country would be should the various agitations in the land assume a religious dimension. No religion has the monopoly of qualified people who have the capacity to serve as running mates to presidential candidates if merit should be the parameter for the nomination of running mates.
Undoubtedly, both Muslims and non-Muslims, in Nigeria of today, are endowed with capable and qualified persons for the offices of the President and Vice-President alike. Consequently, justice, fairness and equity, as enjoined by the religion of Islam, demand that a Muslim presidential candidate should nominate a non-Muslim as their running mate, and a non-Muslim presidential candidate should nominate a Muslim as their running mate, in Nigeria of today, for the sake of the promotion of national unity and cohesion.
“To balance the geographical and ethnic sentiments in the country, our politicians and major political parties have never contemplated fielding candidates of the same geographical and ethnic leanings. In other words, they have never fielded a north-north or a south-south presidential ticket. It is common sense and the appreciation of Nigeria’s religious diversity to abhor and discourage a same-faith presidential ticket. The unity of our beloved country, Nigeria, should be the priority of all Nigerians, not winning elections at all costs. It is a very disheartening commentary on our politics that some of our politicians are thinking of strategy and stratagem to win elections, even if they lose the country in the end.
There should be no desperation to use sophistry to win an election and lose the only country we have. Presently, the level of distrust and suspicion between the Muslims and non-Muslims, in Nigeria, has become very high as to make it implausible, unrealistic and unwise for any political party and presidential candidate to field a same-faith presidential joint ticket.”
TSO wants El-Rufai as running mate
Also yesterday, the Director-General of Tinubu Support Organization, Mr Aminu Suleiman, told journalists that the choice of running mate is a critical success factor for the victory of Tinubu.
Suleiman said: “APC has many outstanding individuals among its leaders that can serve as Tinubu’s running mate, but the North-West as the single largest voting bloc in Nigeria should be allowed to produce the next Vice-President.
“After due consultation with critical stakeholders especially in the North-West, it is of the fact that El-Rufai is Asiwaju’s best choice for Vice President.
“Tinubu Support Organisation is working tirelessly for the election of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the next President of Nigeria and believes that the choice of running mate is a critical success factor for the victory of Asiwaju.
“We are glad that the APC has many outstanding individuals among its leaders. But having assessed all the options, it is the view of TSO that the APC’s candidate for VP should be chosen from the North-West, the single largest voting bloc in Nigeria.
“It is our view that the person that can best compliment Asiwaju as Vice President is Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and we recommend that he should be chosen as the running mate.
“El-Rufai is a very experienced person. He has held office at the federal level and at the state level, and he has done well in every office. He has always stood for progressive policies. He is not afraid of difficult decisions. This is a man that is running a state government with appointees from all over Nigeria.”
2023: Fresh trouble for APC as group files perjury case against Tinubu
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday okayed a fresh suit seeking to compel the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba, to initiate a perjury case against the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1058/2022, was brought before the court by the Incorporated Trustees of Center for Reform and Public Advocacy, a civil society organization.
Cited as Respondents in the suit are the IGP and the Nigerian Police Force, NPF.
Specifically, the applicant is praying the court for “an order of mandamus, compelling the Respondents to comply with Sections 31 and 32 of the Police Act and Section 3 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2015 in respect of alleged crime laid out in complaint of the Applicant encapsulated in the letter of June 16, 2022, received by the Respondents on the same date and titled: Demand for Criminal Prosecution of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu under Sections 191,192 and 463 of the Criminal Code Act, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 Consequent upon the Findings of the Lagos State House of Assembly Ad-hoc Committee, 1999”.
The group, through its lawyer, Mr. Mike Nwankwo, told the court that the suit was necessitated by the IGP’s refusal to take action on its petition against APC’s presidential candidate over an offence it said was established by report of an investigation conducted by the Lagos State House of Assembly in 1999. The group told the court that it earlier forwarded a petition to Police authorities, demanding further action on the said investigative report.
It maintained that by virtue of Sections 214 and 215, of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as Section 4 of the Nigerian Police Act, 2020, the Police, have the statutory responsibility to “prevent, detect and investigate criminal allegations whether brought to their notice by individuals, person or persons, corporate bodies, institutions etc”.
It further claimed that by Section 31 of the Nigerian Police Act, the Respondents, are duty bound to investigate alleged crime brought to them and report their findings to the Attorney General of the Federation or of a state, as the case may be, for legal advice.
The applicant added that by Section 32(1) of the Police Act, “a suspect or Defendant alleged or charged with committing offence established by an Act of the National Assembly or under any other laws shall be arrested, investigated and tried or dealt with according to the provisions of this Act, except otherwise provided under this Act”.
It contended that it has the legal competence to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to compel the Respondents to discharge their legal, constitutional and public duties in line with the law.
More so, the Applicant, decried that its two letters dated June 16 and 27, which it forwardes to the Respondents, wherein it demanded the prosecution of the APC candidate over alleged perjury, have until now been ignored.
It said the Respondents have also “not notified the Applicant of any action taken on the said letter”.
The Applicant told the court that following a letter by late legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, in 1999, the Lagos State House of Assembly had set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the alleged act of perjury wherein the Committee had in its report on page 13 stated that, “However, on question of providing false information on oath (sections 191 and 197) we are satisfied that the statement of the governor’s educational qualification which he has admitted were incorrect were not intended…”
The applicant in its petition to the IGP claimed that APC’s presidential candidate lied on oath in the form CF 001 he submitted to INEC in aid of his qualification for the governorship election in Lagos State in 1999.
Applicant further claimed that Tinubu “forged all the educational certificates he listed in his INEC Form CF 001 which he admitted he did not posses in annexure C”.
“For purpose of clarity, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the said INEC Form deposed on oath that he attended Government College, Ibadan and University of Chicago, USA when in actual fact he did not.
“On the strength of the above, we demand that you initiate the criminal proceedings of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu consequent upon the express findings of the Lagos State House of Assembly as captured above”, it further stated.
Meanwhile, no date has yet been fixed for hearing of the suit.