Plateau LG Polls Hold, As Late Night Court Ruling Dismisses PDP’s Application To Stop It
The Plateau State Local Government elections scheduled to hold Saturday, October 9 is going ahead as planned.
This was after the main opposition party, the Peoples democratic party failed in its attempt to stop the conduct of the election after the state high court ruled in favor of the plateau state electoral commission(PLASIEC) to exclude the party from the elections.
The plateau state chapter of the PDP, had approached the court of appeal seeking for an order of injunction restraining PLASIEC by itself, its agents, privies or any other person whatsoever from conducting the election into the offices of the chairmen and councilors in the 17 local government areas of the state scheduled to hold on the 9th of October, 2021 pending the appeal of the judgement delivered by Honorable Justice Ishaku Kunda on the 29th of September 2021
The party also filed for an order of injunction restraining the PLASIEC or any personality to give effect to other wise seeking the enforcement of the high court of justice of plateau state delivered by Honorable Justice Ishaku Kunda the 29th of September, pending the hearing and determination of the appellant appeal
Counsel to INEC, Garuba Pwul, (SAN) in his motion of Preliminary Objection, described the application as “incompetent” and “contrary to section 7(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria.
He said “My Lord, that section says the LGAs should not be left in vacuum without democratically elected officials to pilot the affairs of the LGAs.
The tenure of the present Council chairmen will elapse midnight (Friday, Oct. 8) and our fear is that there will be a vacuum that will be created if this polls are not allowed to hold on Saturday, Oct 9."
Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, lead three other justices of the Court of Appeal in listening to the argument of parties who exchanged affidavits in both applications.
It was a long day of waiting as the hearing which started at 9am did not end until at about 10:45pm late Friday evening when the ruling was delivered.
The court had taken recess three times as journalists and litigants had to wait for the ruling which was expected that same day because it was hours before voters go to the poll on Saturday.
In its ruling delivered by, Hon. Justice Boloukuromo Ugo (JCA), the Court of Appeal dismissed the arguments of PLASIEC in its Preliminary Objection concerning the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain the Appeal saying the jurisdiction of the court is vested by the status of the constitution and not by events that may have passed.
Equally dismissed was the Injunction Order sought by the PDP because, the judges unanimously said it was the duty of the court to uphold the constitution and not to be seen to be embarking on measure to violates it or be seen to favour the illegal contraption of the appointment of undemocratic leaders like caretaker committees for local government areas by the Governor.
The court ruled that on the grounds of the likely breach of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution the application in the peculiar circumstances of the case is bound to fail
The judges said it was unheard of, that courts will allow the stoppage of holding of an election that has already been scheduled as contained in section 87(10) of the electoral act 2010
There were anger and palpable tension as soon as the ruling was delivered
Speaking to Journalists shortly after the ruling, Pwajok pleaded with the people of Plateau to be patient and participate in the election in a very peaceful and orderly manner for it to be successful.
He said that the appeal would be diligently prosecuted to the end to right the wrongs and injustices for the good and progress of the state
How It All Started
The Plateau Independent Electoral Commission PLASIEC had on June 26th declared that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not be participating in the Oct 9th local councils’ election in the State.
PLASIEC said the development followed the failure of the party to meet up with a High Court ruling directing it to put an elected executive committee in place to take charge of its affairs.
Former house of representative member, Bitrus Kaze with 21 others had approached a Jos High Court where they got an order of court asking the PDP to take all steps, actions to conduct election for the executive committee for Plateau State in accordance with the combined provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Justice SP Gang of High Court 7, Jos declared as unconstitutional and illegal, the extension of tenure of the Yakubu Chocho led Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Plateau State chapter beyond August 10, 2020.
Hon. Bitrus Kaze, a contestant for the seat of the state chairman of the Party then and 11 others had instituted the suit against the PDP and 24 others challenging among other issues, the reappointment of Yakubu Chocho as Chairman and other members as Caretaker Committee to run the affairs of the PDP in Plateau State for another period of 3 months after the expiration of the initial 3 months tenure on 10, August 2020.
Although the PLASIEC was not a party in the suit, it said it is in receipt of petitions from the Bitrus Kaze group warning it not to entertain dealings with the PDP because it is a factional group, and doing so, PLASIEC will be committing contempt of court.
PDP Sue PLASIEC
The Plateau state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, angered by the decision of Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), filed a suit against PLASIEC for excluding the members of the party from participating in the forthcoming Local Government elections slated for October 9, 2021.
The Party also challenged the electoral umpire over the outrageous amount for the sale of nomination forms for the councillorship and chairmanship positions respectively.
Lead Counsel to PDP Edward Pwajok (SAN) said his client is in court to challenge PLASIEC for organizing election for Chairmeen and Councilors in Plateau State by excluding PDP for participating in the election.
Mr. Pwajok (SAN) described the action of electorial umpire in the state as grossly wrong, undemocratic and ploy to denied the people of Plateau State their fundamental human rights to choose who their leader would be,in the third tier of Government.
Court Rule In Favor Of Plasiec
Justice Ishaku Kunda on September 30th dismissed a suit filed by the People Democratic Party, PDP, challenging the party’s exclusion from participating in the upcoming Local Government Election scheduled for 9th October 2021.
Justice Kunda while delivering judgment described the processes of originating surmount filed by the Peoples Democratic Party as lacking in merit.
The Honorable justice held that PLASIEC was legally right to have refused PDP nomination and expression of interest forms for the said election, adding that the PDP instead of abiding by the judgement of SP Gang of November 20, 2020, to conduct state congress, the party went ahead to evoke sections of its constitution to dissolve the state EXCO and constituted a caretaker committee which conducted its primaries that produced the candidates which electoral body refused to issue forms.
In the circumstances, the judge further held that all the steps and actions taken by the caretaker committee including the conduct of the said primary election was null and void.
Dissatisfied with the Judgement of the state high court, the Plateau state chapter of the Peoples democratic party approached the Court of appeal, Jos division.
With barely a week to the local government elections the party asked the court for an order of injunction restraining PLASIEC by itself, its agents, privies or any other person whatsoever from conducting the election into the offices of the chairmen and councilors in the 17 local government areas of the state scheduled to hold on the 9th of October, 2021 pending the appeal of the judgement delivered by Ishaku Kunda on the 29th of sept 2021
The party also filed for an order of injunction restraining the PLASIEC or any personality to give effect to other wise seeking the enforcement of the high court of justice of plateau state delivered by Hon Ishaku Kunda on the 29th of September, pending the hearing and determination of the appellant appeal
The party among its prayers sought for an order of injunction restraining any person by whatsoever name by whosoever called from giving effect to the same judgment pending the determination of the appeal.
Court Dismisses Interlocutory Injunction
The court refused to grant the prayers by the PDP to stop the local government elections scheduled for the 9th and dismissed the interlocutory injunction being sought by the party.
The judges said it was the duty of the court to uphold the constitution and not to be seen to be embarking on measure to violates it.
The court also held that on the grounds of the likely breach of section 7(1) OF THE 1999 constitution the application in the peculiar circumstances of the case is bound to fail
The judges said it was unheard of courts to allow the stoppage of holding of elections that has already been scheduled as contained in section 87(10) of the electoral act 2010
The court has fixed the 22nd of November for hearing of the Appeal.