Drama as tribunal returns labour Minister to Senate

•Affirms ex-Kano gov’s election as senantor

The National and State Houses of Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Jos, yesterday, annulled the election of Senator Napoleon Bali of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as representative of the Plateau South Senatorial District and returned Simon Lalong, Minister of Labour of  the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the election.

According to the tribunal, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had no valid structure in Plateau State at the time of Bali’s nomination as the candidate for the party in the election.

Lalong, immediate past governor of Plateau State and was director-general of the Bola Tinubu Presidential Campaign Committee. Should Senator Bali pursue his case to the Court of Appeal and lose, Lalong would face the option of either taking the Senate seat or relinquishing his position in the federal cabinet.

In another development, a tribunal sitting in Kano dismissed the petition of  former governor of Kano State, Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya, which challenged the victory of Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila.

Justice R O Odogo, who delivered the judgement declared that the petition of the APC senatorial candidate was not only incompetent but was unable to discharge the burden of proof.

“We find no merit in this petition and accordingly, it is  hereby dismissed. We affirm the declaration of Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) as the winner of the Kano South Senatorial District election, held on 25th Feb. 2023” he stated.

The tribunal awarded N200,000 to the respondent.

Meanwhile, the All Progressive Congress in Plateau State has congratulated the Minister of Labour and Productivity , Mr. Simon Lalong over his victory at the Election Petition Tribunal.

The APC in a statement signed by its State Publicity  Secretary, Hon Slyvanus Namang said the Tribunal based its ruling mainly on Ground One  of the former Governor’s Petition that the Plateau State PDP ought not to have participated in the last General Elections as it did not have the legal structure to have validly nominated and fielded candidates for the National elections due to its  disobedience of Court Orders especially the Justice S. P Gang of Plateau State High Court’s unassailable judgment and directive to the party to conduct a Congress to constitute a legally binding party Executive Committee which it bluntly refused to do so since 2020.

It pointed out that the judgement was illuminating and put to rest the controversy that PDP has no legally constituted Exco.

“We also want to applaud justices O. Elekwa and O. A. Adetujoye who also concurred with the lead judgement. The  judgment, we believe is a clear  roadmap to better days ahead for the APC in the state in the remaining Plateau Tribunal  judgments”.

Lalong has also dedicated his victory at the Senatorial Election Petition tribunal sitting in Jos to God and the people of Plateau South Senatorial District.

Lalong who received the good news of the tribunal’s judgement while presiding over an official function at the Ministry of Labour and Employment Abuja on Monday, said the decision of the tribunal nullifying the earlier declaration of his opponent and making him the winner is victory for democracy and justice.

He commended the tribunal for painstakingly scrutinising his arguments and presentations of his party the APC which culminated in him being declared the duly elected Senator representing  Plateau South Senatorial District.

The Labour Minister praised his supporters and, leadership and members of the APC in Plateau State for remaining steadfast and remaining calm while awaiting the verdict of the tribunal.

He urged them to continue to maintain peace as they celebrate, even if his opponent decides to appeal the judgement, which is his constitutionally guaranteed right.

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