From Ahmed Abubakar, Dutse
It all started during a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders’ meeting, held in Dutse where discussions concerning the forthcoming local government polls in the state, were deliberated upon.
Alhaji Sule Lamido who happens to be the party’s leader was alleged to have issued a threat to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in the state to refrain from its alleged scheduled plan to use whatever means to win the forthcoming local government polls.
According to Lamido, “we are more than ready to confront the election, it is an election between us whom have been around for 20 years against a party that is barely 3 years old” he declared.
He further said that “we are ready for the poll and we are more than ready for those of them that think they could cow us into submission or allow them to perpetuate any act capable of disrupting the free conduct of the forthcoming elections”.
Lamido declared that “we would treat them according to their motives, if they represent peace we would be peaceful but if otherwise we would face them eye-ball to eye-ball”, he stated.
At the said meeting, Alhaji Muhammadu Daguro, also a PDP chieftain from Hadejia was said to have warned electoral officers not to allow themselves to be used to rig the local government polls, adding that should they do, it means their mothers would have to bear another set of children for they would have long been gone.
These words of Sule Lamido were what the state government used against him as evidence of what it termed “deliberate incitement of peace” when they charged him to a Chief Magistrate Court in Dutse.
Sule Lamido, who had earlier advised the PDP members at the meeting to be ready for any eventuality during the elections, further stated that brave men must be made to steer the committees for the election, urging them not to be intimidated or scared with arrests.
He said, “the APC on its own could not do much without our bastard members in their midst whom we have sponsored to be what they are but today have decided to pitch camps with them for fear of going to jail”.
He then called on the security operatives to carry out their expected responsibilities of protection of lives of the people during the polls.
However rumour making the rounds in the state suggests that Governor Badaru Abubakar may have been compelled by some APC chieftains to ‘teach’ Lamido some lessons.
Among those speculated to have prevailed on the governor to charge Lamido to court include the state Commissioner of Justice, Bar. Ibrahim Garun Gabas and a PDP stalwart, Senator Danladi Sankara , who has since fallen out of favour with Lamido.
But on the day Lamido was arraigned, the atmosphere in the court was a further testimony to his towering popularity, despite being out of government, as thousands of his supporters thronged the venue, demanding for his unconditional release.
Although the state government had denied speculations that the incarceration of Lamido was orchestrated to score a political point, with a view to sending shiver down the spines of his dogged supporters, the crowd that besieged the court showed clearly that the supporters appear resolute and unrelenting.
And by the next adjourned date, thousands of Lamido’s supporters were denied entry into the court premises and midway into the hearing of the case, the supporters began chanting pro Lamido slogans and increased the tempo immediately they learnt that the presiding Magistrate had turned down his bail application.
Immediately after the court proceeding, the crowd started throwing stones into the court premises shouting ‘karya ne, karya ne’ meaning “it is a lie, it is a lie you must release our leader.”
The police which appeared to have lost their patience with the supporters started firing several canisters of tear gas at them. But that only seem to infuriate them the more as they remained unperturbed. It took the combined efforts of the Police and Civil Defense operatives to disperse the crowd and smuggle the judge out of the court unharmed.
Earlier, Lamido had pleaded not guilty to allegation of incitement and disturbance of public peace, criminal defamation, criminal intimidation which are contrary to the provision of Jigawa penal code as amended.
Counsel to Lamido, Felix Osimerha argued that his client having been a notable public figure and considering that the alleged charges are not capital and are bailable, he should be granted bail.
He also argued that the former governor would be attending another case in Abuja the following day for alleged corruption charges, preferred against him by the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
But the prosecuting Counsel, Ikenna Ignatius argued that, “allowing the defendant on bail is likely to jeopardise the peace of the state considering his large supporters that are evidently noticed before this court”.
The presiding Magistrate, Justice Usman Mohammed Lamin stated that he needed more time to go through all the submissions of the two counsels to ascertain if the defendant would be worthy of a bail.
He then ruled that the bail application would be considered at the next adjourned date and directed that Lamido be remanded in Kiyawa minimum prison.
When contacted the Special Adviser to the Governor Badaru on Media, Mallam Bello Zaki said their decision to take Lamido to court stemmed from the threat and intimidation issued ahead of the polls, by him.
He told Daily Sun that “we instituted a petition to the police against the backdrop of damning threats made by the former governor which we felt is inciting and capable of causing break down of law and order in the state”.