by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Plateau State, says it has watched with “dismay and trepidation” the nullification of the elections of their Senator representing Plateau South and House of Representatives Member representing B/Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency led by Hon Justice M.B. Tukur, and two others, Hon Justice Omaka Elewa and Hon Justice O.A. Adetujoye on Monday.
The party stressed that, it rejects the outcome of the judgment in its entirety because justice was not served and it did not reflect the law and interest of majority of the people as freely expressed at the election.
Briefing newsmen in Jos on Tuesday by chairmen of the party, Hon. Christopher A. Hassan, he said the judgments delivered on Monday by the National and State Houses of Assembly Tribunal (Panel 1) on the March, 2023 National Assembly Election, which the PDP won clearly by majority of votes in Barkin Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency and the Plateau South Senatorial District Elections, was (as he put it) an “electoral robbery,” which is unacceptable to the people of Plateau State.
According to him, “This judgment is contrary to the will of the people of Plateau South and Riyom/Barkin-Ladi Federal Constituency, which was freely expressed by the overwhelming votes cast for our party and candidates at the election.”
He further acknowledged that, following the declaration by INEC that Hon. Peter Gyendeng of the PDP won the majority of lawful votes cast in the Barkin Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency, who won with over 4,000 votes difference and that, AVM Napoleon Bali (rtd) won the lawful votes cast in the Plateau South Senatorial Election – wining 5 Local Governments Areas out of 6 with over 57,000 votes difference – and Labour Party came second, with APC in 3rd position, Bali and Gyendeng were declared winners of the February 25 National Assembly Elections, respectively.
The Labour Party and the APC approached the Tribunal seeking Declaratory Reliefs predicating its petition that PDP is not qualified to sponsor its candidates because it has no structure to sponsor candidates in the State, placing reliance on some cases of the PDP internal squabbles, which the Tribunal relied upon to declare that Hon Peter Gyendeng and AVM Napoleon Bali (rtd), who were not qualified, to contest the election.
“In this case, the PDP had since complied with the judgment of Justice S P Gang through a repeat congress of September, 2021, which was dutifully monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as required by law.”
According to him, this same congress was affirmed by the Federal High Court Jos in a judgment delivered by Hon Justice D.V. Agishi in the case of one Augustine Timkuk vs PDP validating the State Executive of the Party as duly elected, and this same judgment was also unanimously affirmed by the Court of Appeal Jos in favour of the PDP by Hon TY Hassan, Hon Justice I.A. Andenyangtso and Hon Justice O.O. Goodluck delivered on 11th February, 2023.
He further said, “The fact remains that, PDP has a valid and solid structure through which our mandate was given, and we are optimistic that, by the special grace of God Almighty, it will stand because same position was affirmed by the 7 Judgments of Panel 2 of the National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, which is a sister-panel to Panel 1.”
Hon. Chris Hassan said, “It is with great pains to tell you that the decision of the tribunal on this matter utterly falls far short of that expectation.
“We are here to tell you that, the judgment of the tribunal yesterday is a judgment that we refuse to accept, because it is bereft of substantial justice and a diversion of the undiluted will and choices of the Plateau people in the light of the consolidated judgments recently delivered by the Presidential Election Petition Court in the Presidential Petition, which is not far from the petitions here at the Tribunal,” he expressed.
“It is noteworthy that, as we register our disappointment in the verdict of the Tribunal, it can never destroy our confidence in the judiciary. We have asked our lawyers to take the mandate of the Plateau people as their right of appeal to the Court of Appeal to reflect the wishes of the electorate.
“Because, this will of the people – as freely expressed by electing Senator Napoleon Bali and Hon Peter Gyendeng – must be respected. As a law-abiding Party, we will explore all available legal means to restore the victory of the PDP back,” he said.
He, therefore, urged party stakeholders, their supporters and, indeed, the people of Plateau State to be calm and be on alert and continue to support their Distinguished Senator, Hon Member and the party, saying, “as there is no cause for alarm, and this judgments are just temporary setbacks; legal machinery have been set in motion to reclaim our mandate as we restate our confidence in the institution of the judiciary to dispense justice in this matter at the Appellate Court.”