Not long after Yar’Adua’s victory was declared, both Atiku and Buhari launched separate legal chal- lenges to have it overturned. To hear their cases, a special tribunal of five judges was convened. As well as deciding whether any fraud had been committed, it was the panel’s task to determine what should be done if it had. After months of deliberation, it finally delivered its unanimous verdict on February 26, 2008, and found against both plaintiffs. Within hours of the announcement of its judgement, rumours began to cir- culate of massive payments made to its members by a third party close to Obasanjo. It was alleged that in return for this money, which amounted to hundreds of millions of naira, the five Justices were expected to dismiss both cases.
Unexpectedly perhaps, given that Yar’Adua is from Katsina, this outcome was only lukewarmly re- ceived in the north. Prior to the election, he was largely unknown throughout the region. And those who had heard of him usually knew him as Shehu’s younger brother.44 He was certainly far less high profile than either Atiku or Buhari, who are also northerners. Quite rightly, given their long involvement in national politics, they are seen as two of Nigeria’s most senior statesmen. And even though the PDP is the party of the current northern-dominated administration, it does not command universal support throughout the region. Indeed, three of the eight states with non-PDP governors, Borno, Kaduna, and Yobe, are in the north. Their governors, Ali Modu Sheriff, Ibrahim Shekharau and Ibrahim Geidam, belong to the All Nigeria Peo- ples Party (ANPP), for which Buhari stood in the 2007 presidential election.
The north, therefore, is no more immune to the feel- ings of political disenfranchisement that are currently