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General News of Sunday, 5 November 2023


Tension in Plateau as ex-Speaker describes election judgments as another wonder of the world

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Outrage is swelling in Plateau State with members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, alleging a plot to strip them of the seats won in the 2023 general elections through allegedly biased court judgments.

A former Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Istifanus Mwansat, who joined the outrage, described the conflicting judgments pertaining to the PDP as one of the wonders of the world.

“ What is happening in the Court of Appeal is one of the wonders of the world. Because where you have the same Court of Appeal sitting in the same court rooms, same facts giving conflicting judgments, it calls for concern,” Mwansat said in an interview.

He spoke against the background of the conflicting judgments given by two National Assembly Tribunals in Plateau State respectively chaired by Justice William Olamide and the other by Justice Mohammed Tukur.

While the Justice Olamide panel applied the precedence of the Supreme Court that issues pertaining to qualification were pre-election matters and rejected such petitions, the Justice Tukur led panel has used pre-election matters to sack PDP members from the National Assembly and State House of Assembly.

Mwansat, who said he was in agreement with the decision of the PDP National Working Committee to seek the dissolution of the panels in Plateau State, called for caution in order not to derail the nation’s democracy.

Meanwhile, anger is rising on the plateau over the reversal of the election gains of the PDP in the courts.

It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal recently nullified the election of the Senate Minority Leader and Senator representing Plateau North, Senator Simon Mwadkon who polled 155,681 votes to defeat the Labour Party candidate, Gyang Zi who scored 79,831 votes and APC candidate, Christopher Musa Giwa who scored 78,392 votes.

The three-member appeal panel nullified the election on a ground that the PDP did not fully comply with a State High order for a repeat party congress and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to within 90 days, conduct a fresh election with all the parties.

Similarly, the appelate court nullified the election of the PDP member representing Bassa/Jos North Federal Constituency, Hon. Musa Agah Avia, who polled 87,609 votes during the election to defeat his closest rival, Muhammad Alkali of the PRP, who scored 67,331 votes while APC candidate, Baba Hassan, staggered behind and followed by the Labour Party candidate. The court, in its verdict, also ordered INEC to conduct rerun election for all parties within 90 days.

Residents of the state became apprehensive when the same panel of the Appeal Court also nullified the election of another PDP candidate, Hon. Isaac Kwallu, member representing Shendam/Quanpan/Mikang Federal Constituency, where he polled 74,645 votes to defeat the APC candidate, John Dafaan, who scored 43,467. However, in his case, the panel did not order for a rerun but awarded the seat to the APC candidate.

Stakeholders are alleging that anywhere APC did not come second, the courts are ordering a rerun to enable the APC compete but where APC came second the seat is immediately awarded to the APC.

Speaking based on the conflicting judgments, a PDP chief Joshua Lazarus, who frowned at the verdicts, described the grounds on which the Appeal Court used in nullifying the PDP elections as unlawful and unacceptable, saying they are all pre-election matters that ought to be addressed at the Federal High Court as the appeal tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain such cases.

“I smell grand conspiracy against Plateau PDP by the APC. I hope their boast after they were rejected at the polls was not because they know and are close with the President of the Court of Appeal.

“I think it is high time for Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem to show her neutrality in this matter by listening to the public outcry of Plateau masses by disbanding the current appeal panel handling Plateau State cases except…

“I recall that the Appeal Court had granted judgement to member representing Askira-Uba/Hawul Federal Constituency of Borno State, Midala Balami whose closest rival challenged him on alleged disobedience to Supreme Court order for the conduct of his primary election”