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Lawyers disagree over fate of elected Plateau PDP candidates

Lawyers have expressed divergent views on the fate of the governor-elect of Plateau State and other candidates of the party in the just concluded general…

Lawyers have expressed divergent views on the fate of the governor-elect of Plateau State and other candidates of the party in the just concluded general elections.

There are suggestions that the failure of the PDP to conduct a valid election for its executive committee members in 2020 could invalidate the primaries and subsequently the victory of some of its candidates in the general elections.

The March 18, governorship election produced Caleb Mutfwang as governor on the platform of the PDP; Plateau North Senate, Simon Mwadkwon; Plateau South Senate, Napoleon Bali; some House of Representatives seats and 16 seats in the House of Assembly.

Trouble started in 2020 when the Plateau PDP chapter congress produced an executive led by Chris Hassan of the Jonah Jang camp whose emergence was rejected by the Jeremiah Useni camp for not complying with the constitution, the Electoral Act and the guidelines of the party.

Aggrieved by the outcome of the state congress, Bitrus Kaze and other members of the PDP approached a Plateau State High Court, where the presiding Judge, Justice S. P. Gang, agreed with him that the election for the executive committee did not conform to the provisions of Section 223(1)(a) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, the Electoral Act and the PDP Constitution.

When the local government elections approached, Kaze then petitioned the Plateau State Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) not to accept the list submitted by the caretaker committee based on the court order; which the commission complied with.

Both another high court and the Court of Appeal in Jos confirmed the earlier position that the PDP was in contempt of the court on the conduct of its executive committee.

The last hope for the PDP was that the Supreme Court would consider their appeal, numbered SC/CV/341/2022 PDP vs PLASIEC, to reverse the judgments of the high courts and the appeal court. But because they failed to file their appellant briefs within time and failed to diligently prosecute their matter, the apex court on December 7, 2022, dismissed the appeal for want of diligent prosecution under Order 6 Rule 3(2) of the court.

Reacting, Malachy Nwaekpe Esq said there was the likelihood of PDP losing all its elected officials.

He said, “You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. The law is clear that in the absence of valid primary elections, the party shall not field any candidate. If the position of the law is to be applied, mutatis mutandis, in this case, PDP may be crying over spilled milk, especially as it is in flagrant abuse of court order. A party which is in contempt of the order of the court is not entitled to the right of audience in court.”

However, Kalu Agu Kalu Esq said the current position of the law based on the recent decision of the Supreme Court was that you could only challenge the outcome of a primary election if you participated in the primary election.

He said, “From the narration, it’s clear that since there is no aspirant challenging the outcome of the governorship primary election, any challenge at the election petition tribunal will be without locus standi.” 


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