Tribunal: Senator Bamidele says IPOB behind presidential election mayhem in Kano, Enugu

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Senator Opeyemi Bamidele has told the presidential election petitions tribunal that separatist IPOB elements were behind deadly attacks and ballot box disruptions in Kano and Enugu. 

Mr Bamidele, while testifying at the tribunal in favour of his political godfather President Bola Tinubu, said the election violence was not because the government failed to appropriately secure the exercise. 

The Senate majority leader was responding to a new report by the European Union election observers, who found widespread violence during the February 25, 2023, election. He was asked about the report by Livy Uzoukwu, a senior lawyer for the opposition Labour Party, and he said he was aware of it.

Mr Bamidele said the votes scored by Mr Tinubu in Kano were undercounted by thousands of votes. But Mr Uzoukwu said some of the results he presented were not legible and also asked whether or not he knew many people could not vote in Kano as a result of violence. 

The senator said the violence in Kano and Enugu was caused by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, who have been on a relentless and often violent campaign for the independence of Nigeria’s South-East region. Mr Bamidele’s claim surprised many inside the court, as they wondered how IPOB could be responsible for violence in Kano when its focus has always been on the actualisation of nationhood for the Igbo-dominated region. 

He did not present any evidence to substantiate his claim that IPOB elements were behind the attack in Kano, although security analysts said it was possible the group was behind the attacks in Enugu and other parts of the South-East. The group, which carried out a fresh attack yesterday in Ebonyi, had previously issued warnings against participation in the election, but they were restricted to people across the region.

Mr Bamidele, a long-time political ally of Mr Tinubu’s, said was the first witness called when the tribunal resumed hearing on Wednesday morning in Abuja. He argued that Peter Obi was still a member of the Peoples Democratic Party when he picked up Labour’s presidential ticket. Mr Tinubu’s lawyers have been arguing that Mr Obi cannot hold membership in two political parties simultaneously, urging the court to dismiss his candidacy and ability to challenge Mr Tinubu’s victory. 

Mr Tinubu was declared the winner of Nigeria’s presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission and was sworn into office on May 29. Although Mr Tinubu argued he won the election, which was a three-way race, his public conduct and utterances suggested he has not been at ease over the uncertainties cast on his administration by the ongoing litigation over election petitions brought by Mr Obi and his PDP counterpart Atiku Abubakar. 

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