Gyang Bere, Jos
Witnesses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Plateau State have testified before the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Jos that the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Jeremiah Useni won the governorship election in their polling unites with a wide margin.
Testifying before the tribunal, Dung Isaiah Bitrus of Ratsak Zabot ward of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area during cross examination by counsel to Useni, Benso Igbanoi, said the PDP won the governorship election in his polling.
“PDP won the governorship election in my polling unit and I signed the result sheet and was given a duplicate copy which I handed over to my ward collation agent.”
Also, Lam Joseph Choji of Heipang in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area told the tribunal that in the result sheet that he signed, PDP won the election in his Kabong 1 ward with 550 votes against APC with 99 votes
Ringpwom Byetfa of Shishiri ward in Langtang North Local Government Area informed the tribunal that in his Kumbwan 1 polling unit, PDP scored 360 votes as against APC’s 68 votes.
However, during cross-examination by Useni’s counsel, Benson Igbanoi on the alleged certificate forgery of Governor Lalong, Lalong’s star witness, Hon Luka Fwanyil and former Attorney General of Plateau State, said Lalong contested the election with a name Simon Bako Lalong and not Simon Sule Lalong as being contested.
He noted that he was the returning officer for both APC and Simon Lalong in the governorship election and said the poll was peaceful, free, fair and credible.
“The election was free and fair; I did not receive any report of electoral malpractice from any of the collation centres across the state.”
When he was referred to the personal documents that Governor Lalong had filled and submitted to INEC under oath, Barr Fwangyil said he had known the then APC candidate for 30 years and for the elections into the state House of Assembly in 1999 and 2003 as well as into the office of governor, in 2015 and 2019; it was the same name “Simon Bako Lalong” that was used in his documentation.
Chairman of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Hon. Justice H.A. Saleeman, expressed disappointment over the failure of the 2nd respondent, Simon Bako Lalong, and his legal team to produce their witnesses as directed by the tribunal.
She said only four witnesses showed up for Lalong when seating resumed on Friday 26th July after the tribunal had reluctantly adjourned two times on Thursday at the instance of the respondents.
The defense counsel and Lalong’s lawyers, Pius Akubo, SAN, apologised and blamed the situation on distance, the Plateau rough terrain and the fact that that it was the period is the height of the farming season when many witnesses would be very busy on their farms.