Monday 21 August 2023


By: Valentine Adese (JP),

Although, the Petition No: EPT/PL/02/2023, filed by Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is challenging the conduct of the 18th March, 2023, Governorship election in Plateau State by INEC and the declaration of Governor Caleb Mutfwang and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as winners, has entered Counsel’s Final Written Address Stage, many Legal minds have started ventilating their views on the Prosecution, the Defence and the Documents they have tendered during the hearing of the Petition.

You would recall that, REALITY had reported that, the Petitioners had called 49 witness in prosecuting their case, while Governor Caleb and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had called only 4 in defence of their victory. On its part, INEC called no witness.

Looking at the position of INEC, a Legal Practitioner, Emmanuel Eze (Esq), who spoke to REALITY in a Telephone interview, said that, “INEC’s position is akin to a C of O that one tendered and the Ministry of Lands and Survey refused to come to Court or Tribunal to authenticate it.

“INEC not calling any witness over their observed alleged PDP Repeated Congress of 25th September, 2021 is worrisome”.

Another Legal Practitioner, Samuel Jim (Esq), also in a Telephone interview, made a strong reminder of the enforcement of the Plateau State High Court’s Order by Hon. Justice Gang to the PDP.

He said, “The cure of this issue is still within the purvey of the PDP and not the Petitioners any longer, as the Petitioners are simply reminding the Tribunal that, an Order of Court has not been carried out of obeyed before the alleged Repeated State Congress and Primaries of the Party (PDP), towards the general elections of 2023”.

In summary, he highlighted that:

“The Judgment of PLASIEC up to Supreme Court was fully verified and presented by the Petitioners as of today to the Tribunal.

“The Judgment of Hon. Musa Agah up to Court of Appeal was fully verified and presented by the Petitioners as of today to the Tribunal.

“The malpractices that allegedly occurred at Naraguta ‘B’ is verified and presented by the Petitioners as of today to the Tribunal.

“The non-Conduct of Wards, Local Government and State Congresses was verified and presented by the Petitioners as of today to the Tribunal.

“The Purported Congress report was abandoned by INEC for Failure to lead Evidence as it stands today”.

Speaking on the contending issue of Jurisdiction presented by the APC and its candidates in the various Tribunal Panels in the state, you would recall that, the Petitioners and the APC in their several Petitions had argued and presented witnesses to the Tribunals that, the Federal High Court (Jos Division), which handled the Suit brought by one Augustine Timkuk against the PDP, declined hearing the Originating Summons on the grounds that, “It lacks Jurisdiction”.

Although the Respondents had dragged the attention of the Tribunal Panels to the findings of the FHC in its Judgment that, a State Congress was held on 25th September, 2021, they had further argued that the matter was dismissed both on its Merit and on Jurisdiction during Cross-Examinations of same.

In the view of Barr Samuel (Esq) on this issue, he said, “When a Court holds that, it has no jurisdiction on a matter, ordinarily it should not have powers to make any pronouncement denoting rights or liabilities to the parties before it.

“Once a Court holds it has no jurisdiction, every other decision affecting the rights of the parties become academic as those rights cannot be enforced.

“Any decision taking thereafter amounts to no issue. On the issue of the effect of a Court pronouncing on a matter after deciding it has no jurisdiction, the apex Court in Obi vs. INEC (2007) 1 ANLRP 258 held: “once a Court declines jurisdiction to entertain a suit, the only other step it could take in the matter is to make an order striking out the suit.

“Any other Order or pronouncement made by the Court after declaring that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain a suit is null and void and of no effect”.

Also speaking further on the video recently played to the Governorship Tribunal Panel concerning the congratulatory message by Hon. Bitrus Kaze, to the winners in the 25th September, 2021 State Congress of the PDP, Barr. Emmanuel (Esq) said, “The 3rd Respondent (PDP) was wise not to call Hon. Kaze as a witness or subpoenaed him.

“Secondly, the attention of the Tribunal has been drawn to the video as not pleaded. You see this at the address stage, aiming to destroyed the National Anthem of the Respondents that, “It was only the National Working Committee only that Conduct Elections in States”.

“From the last hearing you can observe that, the Counsel to the Petitioners, E. G. Pwajok (SAN) had objected to the admissibility of the documents tendered through Hon. Dakas Shan.

“He had told the Tribunal that, “Virtually all the documents tendered by Dakas Shan were never pleaded including the video tape.. SIC…it in as an exercise in futility”.

“On the Letter to Dakas Shan by the National Organizing Secretary, dated 28th April, 2022, it was for him to be in Plateau for Oversight as clearly stated in the content of the letter.

“The Report of Plateau State Gubernatorial Primary Election Committee, dated 26th May, 2022 signed by all the members of the Committee at Page 2 clearly stated that, Hon. Dakas Shan was in Jos with other Zonal Executives to coordinate and Oversee the exercise because there are issues with the State Exco of the Party in Plateau State.

“These two documents were tendered and identified by Hon. Dakas Shan and marked as EXH. 3RZ and ExH. 3RAM respectively”.


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