The Federal High Court of Nigeria has given an order to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting the proposed re-run election in Langtang South, for the state House of Assembly scheduled to hold on Saturday, 11th February, 2017.
INEC has earlier announced its preparation for the re-run election, following the judgment by the Federal High Court, Jos, on December 16th, 2016, and had fixed Saturday, February 11, 2017, to conduct the election.
Pursuant to this development, and based on People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s appeal, in a suit No: FHC/J/M/16/2017 motion, the judge charged the INEC’s counsel to ensure that no election takes place on Saturday, as scheduled, until the determination of the matter brought by PDP challenging them is being taken.
Giving the ruling on the application brought by the PDP, Justice Dorcas Agishi warned INEC not to go ahead with the conduct of the election on Saturday, saying that such action, if carried out, would be amounting to contempt of court order.
The case was adjourned to16th of February, 2017, for continuation of hearing, and to enable the two counsels harmonize their differences – as the PDP counsel will proceed with their response according law.
The appellant counsel, F.O. Shaibu, applauded the court for the ruling, saying, the judiciary is working, and had earlier filled an application for the stay of execution seeking the court order of injunction restraining the respondent from conducting a re-run election into the seat of member representing Langtang South constituency in the state House of Assembly, pending the determination of the appellant to the court of appeal.
However, the appellant was dissatisfied with the decision of the court, arising from PDP’s application motion of injunction, to stop INEC from conducting election in the Langtang South seat, and decided to appeal to the court of appeal.
The counsel (to PDP) told the court that, if the respondent is not restrained from conducting the election and, it goes ahead to do so, the appeal of the appellant shall be rendered nugatory.
The appellant counsel, Barr Shaibu, argued that if the election is concluded without it and it succeeds on appeal, the success will be empty and money can’t compensate it.
Conscience Triumph recalls that the Plateau State Electoral Commission had quashed the election of Hon Vincent Venman Bulus over criminal involvement and money laundering by EFCC two years ago.
In the current situation, too, the PDP had earlier, in a statement issued to Conscience Triumph, accused INEC, Governor Simon Lalong and the APC for “subverting the wishes of the people of Plateau State.”
The statement was signed by the PDP’s Public Relations Officer, John Akans, who stated that INEC had no constitutional rights whatsoever to conduct or go ahead with the purported planned re-run election on Saturday.
The statement further accused INEC for conniving with the APC in subverting people’s wishes, adding that, “if not, then, why rushing for an election knowing full well that the matter is still pending before the court of law, which INEC has been duly served?”
The statement further urged INEC not to allow itself to be used by the APC to cause unrest in the state, especially Langtang South, and assured its party members of updating them with adequate inform on the matter.
According to the statement, “this action is an abuse to our judicial system and also an invitation to anarchy, because it will be against the interest of the people and against the rule of law.”
Nevertheless, in an affirmative tone, the Resident Commissioner, Prof Jacob Jatau, while addressing stakeholders on Thursday in Jos, said the election will hold in the 68 polling units and 28 voting points in Langtang South local government of plateau state on Saturday, 11th February, 2017.
He said the election will feature only two out of the 3 political parties and candidates that were featured in the 2015 general elections.
He maintained that, those party candidates are Jackson P D Nimmwang of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Rinsmicit Emmanuel of the Mega Progressive People Party (MPPP), while Vincent Venman Bulus of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been excluded from participating in the re-run election.
Langtang South constituency has a total of 49,803 registered voters with distributed 44,577 Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC).
He pointed out that a 2 days’ training of over 420 ad-hoc staff drawn from NYSC, federal tertiary institutions and the Commission commenced on Tuesday.
According to him, accreditation would start by 8am, while voting starts by 2 pm and end by 4 pm, and it’s only those, who have Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) would be allowed to vote, adding those, who will come by 4 pm would not be allowed to vote.
He appealed to stakeholders to pass the message to their people, and prayed for a free-and-fair election, adding that materials (for the exercise) have been received.
Conscience Triumph wonders, who is more powerful in this ‘bout’ – is it the Resident Commissioner or Court’s Injunction restraining the INEC’s proposed election?