Politics

JUST IN: The Truth Emerges On The Plot Against Plateau

That the judgments of the different Elections Petition Tribunals, across the country have shocked Nigerians is an understatement. And to reason that the Appellate court that should look into these weird judgments, with a view to redressing some of the anomalies, as well as restore hope in the judiciary, appears not to have carried out it responsibility up to the expectations of Nigerians.

That the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and other opposition parties have been targeted victims in this travesty of justice and, for whatever reasons, remains not just a fact, but serious cause for concern.

Plateau State chapter of the PDP, from all indications, has been set aside by some powerful forces from within and without, as the object of the on-going display of jungle justice. In 2019 the party had Senator J. T. Useni, as its gubernatorial candidate. The party did all it could but some how lost the election which raised issues in the party.

The tenure of the state party EXCO expired in 2020. A caretaker Committee was put in place, vide a letter from the national headquarters of the party, signed by Col (rtd) Austin Akobundu, the National Organising Secretary of the party. This gave birth to the Hon Gwott Chocho-led Caretaker Committee, whose tenure ended on May 10, 2020.

To address the situation and restore sanity, the National headquarters of the party, set up a Committee headed by Senator Suleiman Adokwe, with three members each, from the two factions. The Adokwe-led Committee conducted a Congress on August 29, 2020 during the COVID-19 and Hon Chris Hassan emerged Chairman, defeating Hon Bitrus Kaze. Hon Kaze decided to approach a Jos High Court, to challenge the election of Chris Hassan.

On November 26, 2020, Justice S P Gang of the Jos High Court, ordered the PDP to dissolve the Chris Hassan – led EXCO and conduct a repeat Congress. On June 10, 2021, the National Working Committee of the PDP decided to set up a Special Committee to look into the matter, headed by Senator Tunde Ogbeha. It was given 90 days within which to sort out all the issues and conduct a fresh Congress. After working tirelessly, the Ogbeha Committee organized a repeat Congress on September 25, 2021. Hon Chris Hassan defeated Hon Bitrus Kaze to emerge as the state Chairman of the party.

With this development, the crisis in the party was deemed to have been put to rest. This is because to date, no member of the PDP approached any court to complain about the conduct of the second congress. Surprisingly and unexpectedly, the APC picked on the conduct of the congress as its reason to call on the Tribunals and court of appeal, for the nullification of the election of all candidates elected on the platform of the PDP. Today all candidates of the PDP who won their elections, in the general elections, have been sent packing, by the tribunal/ appellate court.

It is therefore very important that some of the issues bandied at the tribunal and Court of Appeal that were used to nullify the election of PDP contestants from the state are reviewed, with an intent to put the records straight. The legal team of the APC has harped extensively, on the disobedience to court orders, by the PDP, as reasons for the nullification of the victories of its candidates.

From the brief summary above, is the PDP guilty of disobedience to any court order(s)? To answer this question it is necessary to take another look at the summary above. The only court order the PDP was issued with was that of Justice S P Gang, in 2020, to conduct a repeat congress. This was substantially complied with in 2021, during the September 25, 2021, Congress.

After this congress, there was no complaint before any court in any part of the country from a member of the party in Plateau state, with regard to the congress. To therefore nullify elections that were duly conducted in line with the laid down guidelines, under the excuse of disobedience to court orders is, to say the very least, most disconcerting. Even where there was an established case of disobedience to court orders, it does not amount to a condition for the nullification of an election by an election tribunal or its appeal court. Precedence to this effect exist.