Tribunal dismisses petition challenging senate minority leader’s victory

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The National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Jos on Thursday dismissed the petition challenging the election of Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Simon Mwadkon (PDP/Plateau North).

Justice Mohammed Mohammed, who delivered the judgement, said that the petition against the senate minority leader lacked merit and had been dismissed accordingly.

Mr Gyang Zi, Mwadkon’s Labour Party (LP) rival in the February 25th National Assembly election, had dragged him to the tribunal where he challenged his victory.

Zi, in his petition, claimed that Mwadkon was not validly nominated by his Peoples Democratic Party as the party had no valid structure in the state to do so.

The petitioner also alleged that Mwadkon’s victory was in violation of the electoral act.

But Mohammed said that the evidence and exhibits tendered by the petitioner were purely pre-election matters which should not be brought before a tribunal.

The presiding judge said that the only person qualified to challenge the candidacy of a political party must be a member of that political party.

“The petitioners are not members of the respondent political party and do not have the ground to challenge the nomination and sponsorship of a candidate.

“I hereby rule that the ground has failed; it is incompetent and is hereby dismissed.

“On the issue of violation of electoral act, which is the second ground of the petition, the witnesses could not prove that and as such the petition failed totally and is hereby dismissed.”

Meanwhile, the tribunal, in a separate judgement, dismissed the case challenging the election of Rep Musa Agah (PDP, Jos North/Bassa).

Mr Muhammed Alkali, the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) candidate in the February election, had filed a petition against the victory of Agah.

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

Mr Pius Akubo (SAN), who represented the two lawmakers, commended the tribunal for “graciously and dispassionately delivering the two judgments”.

“The lordships painstakingly and commendably dealt with all the issues. It also goes to show that INEC acted in accordance with the law. It shows that INEC did a good job,” Akubo said.

Mr Mohammed Salihu, counsel to the petitioners, said that in his view, the justices did not understand the crux of the case of the petitioners.

Salihu said that the crux of the petitioners’ case was not about the party primaries but about obeying court order.

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