By Ibrahim Alhamdu
The name Senator Ishaku Abbo, of the senator representing Adamawa north, is synonymous to controversies. Abbo, being one of the youngest senators in the Nigerian 9th senate, is always at the center of one controversy or another, which resulted in his condemnation by many people in his constituency – Adamawa north in Adamawa State and the entire northern Nigeria as a whole.
Before the inauguration of Abbo at the hallowed chamber of the Nigerian senate, a video clip of him physically assaulting a lady at a sex toy shop surfaced. After he physically assaulted the lady in the video, Abbo was seen ordering his police orderly to further arrest the lady he allegedly assaulted for taking sides with the shop owner. The incident generated so much angry reaction from Nigerians on social media and on the streets, which brought disrepute not only to Abbo, but his constituency and his political party. Though, days after the incident, Senator Abbo was arrested by the police who held him for a night, before granting him bail “after meeting a set of administrative conditions for his bond”. He later apologized: he said he was sorry for what happened, adding that regardless of the provocation, his action did not portray him as a good ambassador of the Senate, the PDP, and the youths of Nigeria.
However, all of a sudden, on July 10, 2019, at the Senate hearing of Senator Elisha Abbo over his sex toy shop assault on a lady, there was an intense argument between Senator Oluremi Tinubu and Senator Abbo, while trying to emphasize the extent of the damage to the Senate body and her feeling as a woman, Senator Tinubu, expressed the embarrassment which the youngest Senator in the ninth Senate has brought to the entire National Assembly, but Senator Abbo, in his usual uncouth manner attacked Senator Remi defiantly.
The heat was so intense on Senator Abbo, as women’s groups, civil society movements, students unions, political groups, teams of lawyers and other common people frowned and condemned Abbo’s actions both at the sex toy shop and at the senate hearing, calling for his prosecution.
On September 28, 2020, an FCT High Court found Senator Abbo guilty of the offense. Delivering the judgment the judge ordered him to pay the sum of N50 million to the complainant, Osimibibra Warmate
In his usual character, around October 2019, Abbo picked a ‘fight’ with his governor- Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State. Abbo accused Governor Fintiri of being an ‘Alpha and Omega’ who parades himself as a demi-god, running the PDP like a ‘gangster’, Abbo went to the extent of describing Gov. Fintiri as a ‘small man’ with a big office. When Abbo finally realized that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) wouldl expel him, he defected to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) where his “sins” would automatically be forgiven.
However, after the APC accepted and admitted Abbo, the trend of his unnecessary political fight, use of excessive and offensive language which causes tension among people continued bitterly. His open campaign and criticism against his party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, including criticizing the APC presidential flag-bearer, Bola Tinubu, on national television didn’t come as a surprise to many who knew his antecedents. These led to his expulsion by APC Mubi North Local Government Area on 7th October, 2022, for allegedly engaging in anti-party activities and tampering with the process of internal democracy of the party.
On January 11, 2023, the Adamawa State High Court of Justice No. 3, presided by Hon. Justice Danladi Mohammed, sacked Senator Abbo as APC Senatorial Candidate for Adamawa North, saying he is not entitled to seek re-election since he was expelled. Justice Danladi, held that Senator Abbo and APC are bound by the resolution of Mubi North LG Exco dated 7th October 2022, which expelled him, saying that he is not entitled to enjoy any right or privilege accorded to the APC members.
While responding to the judgment, Senator Abbo, said, the judgment is just a ‘child-play’- saying in Hausa- “Kare ya taka Nera ya wuce bai san kuɗi ba”. Abbo said – the judge is wrong and just wasting his time, peoples’ time, and the Senator’s time. But Abbo promised to appeal the judgment.
Now the question is; has Abbo truly lost his ticket?
Many legal experts are of the view that Senator Ishaku Abbo has lost the ticket, because, people saying that the state high court lacks jurisdiction on such matters, are wrong. Section 6, Subsection (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria explains all the intricacies and the law has fully explains it all.
But what about a change of candidate? The electoral Act 2022 says: A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted under section 29 of the Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate: Senator Abbo is neither dead nor withdrawn his candidature. Many legal experts say the Nigerian Constitution supersedes the provisions in any other laws; a competent court of law has agreed and validated what the 29-member committee of APC Mubi North LGA, did – the expulsion of Senator Ishaku Abbo, thus, the judgment is bound on Abbo, APC and INEC, the only doctrine of necessity available to the APC and INEC is to accept the person that came second in the primary election that produced Abbo.
Some political pundits are of the view that this court judgment is a golden opportunity for the APC to easily replace Senator Abbo who has been in anti-party activities criticizing the party, its presidential and vice presidential candidates including other leaders of the party, bringing disrepute and low esteem to the whole APC.
Ibrahim Alhamdu is a social and political commentator. He writes from Abuja, Nigeria.