Alleged Perjury saga: How embattled Gov Matawalle of Zamfara uses state power to oppress critics

By Tanimu Salihu Mafara

As the fate of Zamfara State Governor, Mr Bello Mohammed Matawalle hangs precariously in the balance over his eligibility or otherwise for the 2023 governorship election, palpable anxiety has set in within his camp in the state. Matawalle is seeking re-election for second term of four years on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State.

There is a pending case at the Federal High Court, Gusau where the plaintiffs are seeking Matawalle’s disqualification from the race over alleged perjury arising from certificate forgery and age falsification. As the campaigns for the election commence, some of the embattled governor’s supporters and aides have launched offensives against those suspected to be masterminds of the law suit seeking his disqualification. Available information in the state indicate that the governor has set out to clampdown on the opposition especially the dissenting voices suspected to pose a threat to his quest for the realization of his second term ambition. Even some well-meaning patriots in the state who are not active political players have not been spared as they have fallen victims of the unwarranted onslaught.

We are well aware how the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the Governor, CSP Ibrahim N. Angbasa abandons his primary responsibilities to serve as the hitman against those presumed to constitute threats against the Governor’s second term ambition. Among the methods being deployed are arbitrary prosecutions of opposition elements based on phantom charges, arrest of social critics and threats to the freedom, safety and even life of anyone suspected to be opposed to the return of the Governor come 2023. The practices have been likened to the undemocratic methods witnessed under the military regimes of the past era. Howbeit, the governor seems to have transformed into an archetypal maximum ruler dressed in a false democratic robe.

It is public knowledge that Mr Matawalle has been dragged before the Federal High Court, Gusau on account of suspected false affidavit sworn to by him as it relates to Constitutional requirements of eligibility and in contravention of Electoral Act as amended in 2022. The case was instituted by Muazu Mannir Haidara and Incorporated Trustee of Majalisar Matasan Arewa Association.

Since the filling of the said suit, the Governor has become restless and irritant and has ordered the Chief Security Officer to track and deal with any threats against his second term bid. The desperation led to the illegal co-opting of the IGP Special Tactical Squad (STS) to carry out the arrest and detention of those perceived to be stumbling blocks to the governor’s precarious second term ambition.

In the course of the said claampdown mission, operatives have allegedly arrested one Bashir Dahiru Umar, the Head of ICT at the National Examination Council (NECO), Headquarters, Minna, Niger State, for purportedly refusing to delete the 2018 academic record Governor Matawalle from the NECO server. Up to this day, he is still allegedly detained illegally at the Police Barracks, Constitution Road, Kaduna.

Furthermore, the Governor has been accused of using the instrumentality of his Chief Security Officer’s office to arrest and summarily detain several opposition elements using willing judges in the State Magistrate and High Courts. Some of the victims have not been traced. As I write this, one of the Governor’s critics and a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara State, Mr Mugira Yusuf is allegedly being tracked for arrest and detention by the CSO and his men for no offence other than having a dissenting view against the Governor.

In view of the foregoing and other unlawful acts, we call on the IGP to redeploy the CSO to the Zamfara State Governor, CSP Ibrahim N. Angbasa. He has compromised his oath of allegiance by becoming too partisan to be left unchecked. He constitutes a threat to democratic tenets and freedom of speech in the state. We have also started monitoring the activities of the Police Commissioner in the state. In the same vein, we urge the IGP to order for the immediate release of the NECO Head of ICT who is allegedly being detained illegally on the instruction of the Governor. We shall also monitor continuously if anything should happen to the NECO Head of ICT and the records of the Governor at the NECO headquarters.

Equally, we call for the transfer of the case regarding the false affidavit to Federal High Court Abuja where it was originally filed to guarantee the safety of the plaintiffs, counsels and witnesses.

As a coalition of balanced Civil Society Groups who are deeply concerned about good governance and safeguarding of our thriving democracy. It is our patriotic duty to consistently frown at tyranny and doggedly fight against any threat to freedom of our citizenry. We therefore use this medium to call on the Governor to honorably resign from Office in order to allow for justice to be speedily dispensed with. Furthermore, judging from the contradictory academic records of the Governor, we call on the APC to deploy its internal disciplinary mechanism by expelling him from their fold if pronounced guilty in order not to associate the ruling party with impunity and illegality.

On the heels of the foregoing, we are using this medium to call on the United Nations (UN), Amnesty International, National Democratic Institute (NDI), United States and United Kingdom to beam their searchlights on the ongoing undemocratic conduct and tyranny in Zamfara State as a way of safeguarding democracy and free choice. We trust that all true patriots and defenders of democracy will rise in opposition to the ongoing fiendish activities in Zamfara State.

– Tanimu Salihu Mafara, the Chairman of
Zamfara Alternative Forum wrote from Gusau on behalf of the forum.

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