26 January 2013

Nigeria: Tribunal Dismisses Petition Against Plateau North Senator

The Plateau North Election Tribunal yesterday dismissed the petition filed against the victory of Sen. Gyang Pwajok in the Oct. 6 bye-election by the Congress for Progress Change (CPC).

Justice A. A. Adebara, Chairman of the Tribunal, who ruled on the matter in Jos, threw out the case after declaring that filing it was simply "an abuse of court process".

The CPC and its candidate in the election, Tony Agaga, had filed the petition seeking the annulment of the election on the grounds that INEC rejected the name of its candidate and thereby denied him the right to contest.

CPC's lead counsel, Prof. Sylvestre Shekyil, in his submission, argued that Pwajok of the PDP was not validly elected as his candidate (Agaga) was denied the right to contest the said election.

But even before filing the petition at the election tribunal, the CPC has filed another case at an Abuja High Court, seeking the annulment of the same election on same grounds.

In a judgment on that matter delivered on Dec. 20, 2012, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, of the Abuja Federal High Court, ordered Sen. Pwajok to "stop parading himself as the senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District in the Senate."

Ademola further said only the court was constitutionally empowered to disqualify persons from contesting elective positions and declared that it was wrong for INEC to have held the election when the CPC and Agaga had challenged their disqualification.

The judge also directed the INEC to "solve the problem and conduct a fresh election in 90 days."

He also ordered the INEC to include the names of the plaintiff in the ballot papers before any bye-elections could be conducted.

The court, however, noted that only the election tribunal had the powers to cancel the elections.


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