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Cablegate: July 2007: Northern Nigeria Political Tidbits

VZCZCXRO4279
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1626/01 2081226
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271226Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0437
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0484
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 7511
RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ 0479
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001626

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KISL KJUS NI
SUBJECT: JULY 2007: NORTHERN NIGERIA POLITICAL TIDBITS

REF: A. ABUJA 1440
B. 06 ABUJA 2135

ABUJA 00001626 001.2 OF 002


THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET
DISTRIBUTION.

1. (U) This cable is a roundup of recent political
developments across northern Nigeria.

---------------------------------------------
GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION TRIBUNAL UPDATE
--------------------------------------------- -
2. (SBU) As noted in Ref. A, election tribunals across the
country have gotten off to a rocky start. Substantive trials
have yet to begin in most cases. One trend emerging is for
aggrieved candidates to relinquish redress through the
tribunal process in exchange for state cabinet-level
appointments in newly formed "unity government" coalitions.
Following is a summary of election tribunal developments in
the North.

3. (U) BORNO STATE: On July 23, Justice Reuben Nwajiobi
struck out the petition filed by AC gubernatorial aspirant
Mohammed Kumalia, claiming that the petition had been filed
after the deadline. (NOTE: The 2006 Electoral Act states
that an election petition must be presented within thirty
days from the announcement of election results, however, the
Act does not qualify whether these days may be calendar or
business days. END NOTE.) Kumalia's legal counsel sent a
protest letter to the President of the federal Court of
Appeal decrying the Borno tribunal as compromised and
claiming that the tribunal's justices were being granted
"special favors" from the Borno state government. Kumalia
filed an appeal of the tribunal's ruling at the federal Court
of Appeal on July 27. Also in Borno state, PDP gubernatorial
candidate Kashim Imam withdrew his petition challenging
Governor Ali Modu Sheriff (ANPP).

4. (U) PLATEAU STATE: On July 24, the pre-hearing phase of
Pam Gyang's (AC) petition challenging Governor Jonah Jang
(PDP) was adjourned after 10 minutes. When the pre-hearing
resumes on August 7, the tribunal will entertain the PDP's
preliminary objections to the petition, including its
contention that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction to hear the
petition as it was filed after the deadline.

5. (SBU) KATSINA STATE: The State Election Tribunal on July
24 dismissed the suit against Governor Ibrahim Shema (PDP)
filed by Mohammed Nur Khalil (ANPP). The tribunal ruled that
Khalil had no legal capacity (locus standi) to institute the
case since his name never appeared on the April 14 ballots.
Although Khalil secured the ANPP nomination during the
party's December primaries, Abu Ibrahim replaced Khalil as
the ANPP's gubernatorial choice just ahead of elections )
reportedly due to Khalil's falling out with ANPP leadership,
including Buhari.

6. (U) KOGI STATE: The State Election Tribunal has fixed
August 13 to begin hearing the case brought by ANPP
gubernatorial candidate Prince Abubakar Audu.

7. (U) ZAMFARA STATE: On July 17, the State Election
Tribunal dismissed the petition of gubernatorial candidate
Lawali Shu'aibi (DPP) on grounds that his case lacked merit;
Shu'aibi filed for appeal on July 23. The Zamfara tribunal
began hearing preliminary arguments from gubernatorial
candidate Yahaya Adbulkarim (PDP) on July 23.

8. (U) GOMBE STATE: DPP gubernatorial aspirant Abubakar
Hashidu's petition before the State Election Tribunal
challenging Governor Danjuma Goje (PDP) commenced the
pre-trial hearing on July 16.

9. (SBU) YOBE STATE: On July 26, the State Election Tribunal
jettisoned petitions filed by gubernatorial hopefuls Usman
Albishir (ANPP) and Adamu Maina Waziri (PDP). The tribunal
ruled that neither Albishir nor Waziri possessed the legal
capacity to challenge the election of Governor Mamman Ali
(ANPP). Albishir's challenge to Governor Ali, a member of
his own party, emanates from Albishir's falling out with ANPP

ABUJA 00001626 002.2 OF 002


leaders in the run up to April 14.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
KANO HISBAH TO ENFORCE SHARIA IN CHRISTIAN AREAS
--------------------------------------------- ---------
10. (U) BBC News and Nigerian press on July 24 reported that
the Kano hisbah authority (commonly known as the Sharia
police) will begin strict enforcement of Sharia in the Sabon
Gari area of Kano metropolis. This Day claims that the
hisbah has destroyed 6,000 cartons of beer smuggled into the
state and will commence raids at some "pleasure spots" and
close all beer parlors, chalets, and night clubs in Sabon
Gari.

11. (SBU) In discussions with PolOff on July 26 Muzzamil
Sani Hanga, member of the Kano Sharia Implementation Council,
dismissed the stories as "factually inaccurate and
sensationalized," contending that the mandate of the hisbah
does not encompass enforcement of Sharia except in civic
matters (Ref. B) and only in Muslim areas. Hanga stated that
the story is a "big misunderstanding" contrived by
"over-zealous" correspondents who have exaggerated statements
posted to the Internet made by the Director of the Kano
Hisbah Board. The statements, Hanga insists, were meant to
elucidate the functions of the hisbah - a cadre of young,
educated (secondary school certificate at minimum) males who
serve as traffic wardens, regulate commercial activity in the
marketplace, resolve disputes through "people's courts", and
visit the infirmed in hospitals.

12. (U) In 2000, Kano joined Zamfara state in criminalizing
the consumption and possession of alcohol. Three years
later, Kano State government enacted into law the creation of
the Kano Hisbah Board, whose principal function was to
enforce aspects of the Sharia in society. The Government of
Nigeria (GON) proscribed the establishment of the hisbah in
2003, alleging that Kano State government was attempting to
create a parallel security force and accusing the hisbah of
receiving funding and terrorist training from foreign
governments. In February 2006, the Kano State government
challenged the GON's hisbah ban before the Nigerian Supreme
Court, which struck out the case in March 2007.

13. (SBU) COMMENT: Rumors and sensationalized news are
commonplace in Nigeria. Post has been unable to
independently confirm reports of the hisbah targeting
"pleasure spots" in Sabon Gari ("New Settlement"), which in
fact is populated by non-indigene Muslims and non-Muslims
including Lebanese, Sudanese, Libyans, and Indians and
contacts in the area confirm that bars and restaurants that
serve alcohol remain operational.

14. (SBU) COMMENT CONT'D: The introduction of the hisbah
throughout the North sparked controversy at the federal level
in Nigeria and among diverse sectors of Nigerian society,
many of whom feared the hisbah would restrict religious
freedoms. In the North, the establishment of the hisbah was
heralded as a tangible step towards bringing society back in
line with Islamic values. The enforcement of Sharia has been
criticized for targeting the indigent and downtrodden, while
ignoring the wealthy and powerful. To be sure, as a
commercial center Kano cannot survive without its many
Yoruba, Igbo, and other Christian businessmen. Cognizant of
the tense, at times hostile, state of Christian-Muslim
relations as well as the history of inter-communal violence
in Kano, the state government has made several overtures over
the past few years indicating its commitment to
reconciliation with and not to alienation of the sizeable,
economically-powerful Christian segment of Kano society. END
COMMENT.
GRIBBIN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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