Plateau Election Petition Controversies Stir Heated Debate and Concerns for Peace

August and September 2023 brought a wave of controversy to Plateau State as the Governorship, National/State Assembly election tribunals issued judgments that ignited debates and raised concerns, particularly among politicians, political parties, and their supporters.

At the heart of the controversy was the apparent contradiction between two National Assembly Election Petition Tribunals, one led by Justice William Olamide and the other by Justice Mohammed Tukur, which seemed to take different positions on whether opposition parties could question the nomination of candidates from other parties.

This inconsistency in tribunal judgments ignited intense discussions and divisions among citizens, with passionate arguments both in favor of and against the tribunal’s decisions.

The controversy deepened following Appeal Court judgments for the Plateau North Senatorial zone and the Bassa/Jos North federal constituency, which left citizens perplexed about which political parties would participate in the upcoming elections set to be conducted in 90 days.

Many wondered why judgments based on similar grounds yielded different outcomes, leading to suspicions of ulterior motives aimed at disrupting the fragile peace in the state. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) expressed concerns, alleging a “deliberate perversion of justice and conspiracy against the PDP and its candidates.”

While Hon. Justice Mohammed Tukur and his panel annulled the election of several elected PDP political officeholders, Justice William Rotimi and his team dismissed petitions from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and advised the party not to interfere in another party’s affairs.

The contradictory judgments sparked sharp reactions from political parties. The PDP Chairman, Chris Hassan, contended that the tribunal’s decisions did not align with the law, while the APC State Publicity Secretary, Sylvanus Namang, celebrated judgments that favored his party.

Amidst the confusion and controversy, the Forum of Former Youth Leaders (Veterans) and the Peace and Good Governance Advocates (PEGGA) expressed their concerns over the conflicting judgments. They called for the judiciary to uphold the emerging peace on the plateau and avoid sowing discord among the people.

Both groups urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to closely monitor the situation in Plateau State, emphasizing the importance of avoiding tension and conflicts stemming from contradictory and conflicting tribunal judgments.

As the conflicting tribunal judgments reach a conclusion, citizens now look to the Appeal Court for diligent and impartial judgment in the remaining cases, based on the merits of each case, rather than any other considerations.

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