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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has upheld the tribunal decision affirming the sack of AVM Napoleon Binkap Bali (rtd) representing Plateau South Senatorial District. In turn, the Court affirmed Simon Bako Lalong as winner.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in February, declared PDP’s Bali winner with 148844 votes against immediate past Governor of Plateau State and currently Minister of Labour & Productivity, Lalong (APC) who scored 91674 votes.

Dissatisfied with the result, Lalong & APC, & Tobias Nda Kwanmen (LP – 17325 votes) approached the National & State Houses of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Jos, seeking amongst others, the disqualification of the PDP Candidate.

The Petitioners in their separate averments argued that the PDP in the State had no valid structure having not obeyed the justice S P Gang’s order to conduct a valid Congress. In their petitions, they stated that with the PDP having disobeyed the Jos High Court order, they have no Candidate and should be disqualified.

In a judgement read by Justice Omaka Elekwa and concurred by Justices Muhammad Tukur (Chairman of the panel) & Olusola Adebisi Adetujoye (Member II), the tribunal upheld the petition of the APC and affirmed Lalong as winner with the PDP/Bali not qualified to stand for the election.

Dismayed by the outcome, Bali headed for the Appellate Court, the final Court in these matters.

In suit Nos: CA/J/EP/PL/SEN/32/23, CA/J/EP/PL/SEN/32^/23 & CA/J/EP/PL/SEN/33/23, the Appeal Court held that Bali was an independent Candidate and further ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Bali and issue to Lalong.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the tribunal sacking of Hon. Beni Butmak Lar representing Langtang North/Langtang South Federal Constituency. In turn, the Appellate Court upheld APC’s Vincent Venman Bulus as duly elected and returned.

The INEC on 27th February, declared Butmak of the PDP winner with 42008 votes against APC’s Bulus of the APC who scored 21345 votes.

Dissatisfied Bulus & the APC approached the tribunal seeking the disqualification of Lar following the alleged disobedience of the PDP with respect to the Jos High Court order.

The Justice Muhammad Tukur-led panel upheld the arguments of the Petitioners, sacked Lar (a fifth-term lawmaker) and affirmed Bulus as winner.

Obviously aggrieved and hoping for the reversal of the decision, Butmak & the PDP headed to the higher and final Court in these matters.

In consolidated appeals; Suit Nos: CA/J/EP/PL/HR/25/23, CA/J/EP/PL/HR/26/23 & CA/J/EP/PL/HR/37/23, the Appeal Court affirmed Bulus as winner and ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Lar and issue same to Bulus.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has also affirmed the tribunal decision sacking Peter Ibrahim Gyendeng of the PDP. The Court affirmed Labour Party’s Fom Dalyop Chollom as Reps member representing Barkin-Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency.

Fom Chollom challenged the declaration of Gyendeng as winner of the 25th February polls.

Fom’s petition was hinged on the ground that Gyendeng was not validly nominated by his party claiming that PDP had no valid structure in the state at the time of his nomination as a candidate.

The tribunal unanimously agreed with the petitioner and sacked the PDP Candidate. The three-man panel further ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Gyendeng and issue same to Chollom.

However, the PDP Candidate went on appeal.

In consolidated appeals, Suit Nos: CA/J/EP/PL/HR/47/23 & CA/J/EP/PL/HR/23/23, the Court upheld the tribunal decision. The three-man appellate Justices held that the PDP had the opportunity to obey the Court order but chose not to. They held that the PDP had no valid structure.

They ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Gyendeng and issue same to Fom as duly returned winner.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja earlier upheld the electoral victory of Kawu Abdulrahman Sumaila (NNPP) representing Kano South Senatorial District.

Kawu, a 3-term member of the House of Reps, a former Deputy Minority Leader in the 6th & 7th Assembly (ANPP), an ex-aide to former President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly matters, ex-member of the merger Committee, NEC and National Caucus of the APC was declared winner in February having scored 319557 votes against ex-Gov Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya (APC) who had been in the Senate since 2007 scoring 192518 votes.

Gaya approached the tribunal who on September 11, unanimously dismissed the petition with a N200000 fine in favour of Kawu.

The Court of Appeal also upheld the tribunal decision affirming Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu as Reps member representing Ethiope Federal Constituency.

APGA’s Ogboru Michael Etabunor had unsuccessfully challenged the victory of the PDP Candidate at the tribunal. The Appeal Court today dismissed the petition as lacking in merit and affirmed Erhiatake, daughter of former Governor James Onanefe Ibori as duly elected and returned.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos also upturned the tribunal decision sacking Labour Party’s Ibe Okwara Osonwa as Reps member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency.

In February, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared LP’s Osunwa winner with 8946 votes, defeating closest challengers: APC’s Daniel Chimezie Okeke, APGA’s Okuji Obinna Oreh and PDP’s Ifeanyi Uchendu scoring 6635, 5211 and 2763 votes respectively.

In a petition brought by the PDP, APC and their respect Candidates, the Justice Adeyinka Aderibigbe-led three-man panel sacked Osonwa for non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022.

The tribunal further affirmed the APC Candidate, Okeke as duly elected and returned.

Aggrieved by that decision, Osonwa appealed the judgement praying the final Court in these matters reverse the decision of the tribunal.The Appeal Court granted the appeal, set aside the tribunal’s decision and unanimously re-affirmed Osonwa as duly elected and returned.

About Dons Eze

DONS EZE, PhD, Political Philosopher and Journalist of over four decades standing, worked in several newspaper houses across the country, and rose to the positions of Editor and General Manager. A UNESCO Fellow in Journalism, Dr. Dons Eze, a prolific writer and author of many books, attended several courses on Journalism and Communication in both Nigeria and overseas, including a Postgraduate Course on Journalism at Warsaw, Poland; Strategic Communication and Practical Communication Approach at RIPA International, London, the United Kingdom, among others.

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