APPEAL COURT SACKS SENATE MINORITY LEADER, ORDERS REELECTION

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has voided the election of the Senate Minority Leader, Simon Mwadkwon (PDP), representing Plateau North Senatorial District.

The Appeal Court led by Justice Elfreda Oluwayemisi Williams-Dawodu JCA ruled that the PDP did not validly nominate Mwadkwon and ordered a fresh election within 90 days.

On 1st March 2023, INEC declared PDP’s Mwadkwon winner with 155681 votes to defeat Gyang Yaya Zi of the Labour Party, who scored 79,831 votes, and the candidate of the APC, Giwa Musa Christopher, with 78,392 votes.

Dissatisfied with the outcome, the APC/Giwa Christopher (EPT/PL/SEN/01/2023) and LP’s Azi (EPT/SEN/04/2024) approached the tribunal.

In their respective petitions, the petitioners contended, amongst others, that Mwadkwon was not qualified to stand for an election because the PDP had no structure to nominate a candidate, having not complied with an earlier order by the state’s High Court for the party to conduct a proper state congress.

While delivering judgement on 24th August 2023, the tribunal led by Justice Muhammed Muhammed ruled that the Labour Party (LP) Senatorial candidate, Gyang Zi lacked the locus standi to meddle into PDP’s nomination of Senator Mwadkon as candidate of the party in the 2023 general elections and dismissed the petition.

“The issue of nomination and sponsorship of candidates is basically pre-election matters and purely internal affairs of political parties and therefore, it is within the domestic domain of the 3rd respondent (PDP).

“The petitioners lack the necessary locus standi to challenge the nomination and sponsorship of the 2nd respondent by the 3rd respondent. Ground one of the petition is purely pre-election matter which can only be entertained at the Federal High Court, and candidates or aspirants who contested primaries with the 2nd respondent that are in position to seek redress.”

On the issue of non compliance with Electoral Act 2023 as alleged by the petitioners, the Tribunal held that the petitioners did not lay genuine facts and substantial evidence on that ground. The tribunal ruled that the petitioner should have brought eyewitnesses from the polling units (polling units agents) to prove over-voting, and non-compliance with the electoral act but they failed.

On 25th August, the tribunal led by Justice William Rotimi Olamide ruled against the APC Candidate: “This Petition is ineffective and affected by so many terminal diseases and no medicine on earth can cure it.”

Dissatisfied Gyang and Giwa respectively approached the Appeal Court

The Appeal Court on Sunday, held amongst others, that the PDP had no valid candidate in the poll. It also held that the earlier order by the Plateau High Court was not fully complied with by the PDP as 12 Local Government Areas did not participate in the said Congress.

“To avoid anarchy, I agree with the appellants that the court must protect an order of another court.

“I agree with the appellant that the third respondent (PDP) had no valid structure and could not have claimed to have validly nominated the second respondent (Mwadkwon) for the election.

“Given the findings of this court, the appeal, therefore, succeeds as the court order was not complied with.

“The first respondent (INEC) is hereby ordered to conduct another senatorial election in Plateau North within 90 days”, the court held.

In same vein, the Appeal Court also sacked Hon. Musa Agah Avia representing Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency in the House of Reps for not been validly nominated by the PDP.

On Sunday, Justice Okon Abang who read the leading judgement, also Nullified the Victory of Hon. Avia, ordering a fresh election in 90 days.

INEC declared Avia winner with 87609 votes to defeat his closest rival and current member, Gwani Alkali of the PRP who got 67 331 votes while the candidate of the Labour Party, Daniel Asama scored 41, 950 votes.

Dissatisfied, Alkali approached the tribunal.

Justice Williams Olamide, in his judgment, affirmed the election of Agah and dismissed the petition of Alkali for lacking in merit.

Alkali of the PRP, also approached the Appeal Court where judgement has now been entered.

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