Gyang Bere, Jos
The Plateau State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Jos has dismissed a petition filed by the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Jeremiah Useni, against the re-election of Governor Simon Lalong, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the March 2019 governorship election.
In a judgement delivered on Wednesday, the chairman of the three-member Tribunal upheld the election of Governor Lalong, saying the petitioner had failed to proof his case.
Justice Salman, while ruling on the allegations of certificate forgery and corruption claimed by Useni, said with the evidence provided by Lalong as contained in his secondary and tertiary first degree certificates which bear ‘Simon Sule Bako’, he had a sworn affidavit and published in the Nigeria Standard newspapers before he started using ‘Simon Bako Lalong’.
The Tribunal said that it does not need light to search for the truth on the matter and that the certificates presented by Lalong were truly his, with no evidence of corruption as claimed by the petitioner.
On the alleged cancellation and mutilation of votes in some polling units alleged by the petitioner, Justice Salma said the witnesses brought by the petitioner failed to establish the case beyond a reasonable doubt, except in a few polling units where the votes were deducted from the total votes scored by the political parties.
“Based on the evidence the witnesses brought before the Tribunal, they failed to prove their cases and the Tribunal does not need light to search for the truth, the petition is hereby dismissed,” the judge ruled.
Counsel to Senator Useni, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), through Barr. Edward Pwajok (SAN), said the ruling provided so much ground for appeal.
He insisted that Governor Lalong presented false information on his certificates and that the judgement did not make reference to the ruling of Supreme Court which mandated the Tribunal to accept evidence of most witnesses that were struck out.
“We thank God that there are other higher levels; from the judgement itself, it has already formulated many grounds of appeal, because, in some cases, we find out that some of the findings of by the Tribunal were not in line with the conclusion which it reached.
“For instance, the issue of the qualification of the governor, they found as a fact that he gave false information on oath in Form EF001; we would have expected that since that was found, the next thing was to make consequential declaration, but that was not done,” Pwajok said.
Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong described the Tribunal ruling as a victory for the people of the state and an affirmation of the mandate freely given to him in the last general election.
Lalong, in a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affair, Makut Simon Macham, said the verdict of the Tribunal clearly spoke of the unshaken confidence the electorate demonstrated when they massively voted for Lalong and the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the last general elections.
“The verdict of the election petition tribunal not only affirms our mandate, but also shows that we are all winners as the people of the state will now have seamless governance since the distractions of litigations are now settled.”
He again extended a hand of fellowship to the opposition PDP to join hands with him to rescue Plateau State from underdevelopment, insecurity and poverty and consolidate on the achievements of the last four years saying “there is no winner or loser in this verdict; Plateau State is the winner.”