The Governorship and the National/State Houses of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal Panels in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, have shown impressive progress despite the substantial number of petitions before them.
The Panels have prioritized the Governorship and National Assembly election petitions, considering the timeliness of the elections.
Presently, three Election Petitions Tribunal Panels are conducting hearings in Jos within the Main Complex of the Plateau State High Court. This arrangement was made for administrative purposes and to facilitate the movement of counsels between panels.
Significant progress has been made in several Petitions arising from the National Assembly elections conducted by INEC on February 25, 2023. Notably, Petitions No: EPT/PL/HR/08/2023 and EPT/PL/SEN/01/2023 filed by Rt. Hon. Ibrahim Baba Hassan and Amb. Chris Giwa, both of the All Progressives Congress (APC), have entered their Final Written Address stages.
Rt. Hon. Ibrahim Baba Hassan’s Petition challenges the election won by Hon. Musa Agah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the qualification of Hon. Adamu Alkali of the Peoples Redemption Party for the House of Representatives in Jos-North/Bassa Federal Constituency. Amb. Chris Giwa’s Petition challenges Sen. Simon Mwadkon for the senatorial election in Plateau North Senatorial District.
In the Governorship Petition No: EPT/PL/GOV/03/2023, filed by Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda against Barr Caleb Mutfwang and the PDP, there are indications that INEC, the 1st Respondent, may open its case on Monday, following the Petitioners closing their case last week. Dr. Nentawe, the APC gubernatorial candidate, has presented over 48 witnesses and subpoenaed members of the PDP, the Police, and INEC National Chairman to testify on his behalf.
Moreover, it is expected that Respondents will open their cases in Petition No: EPT/PL/SEN/02/2023, filed by former Governor Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, who is concluding his case early next week. Lalong has presented substantial INEC documents and witnesses as evidence.
Throughout the Tribunal Panels, the APC and its candidates aim to establish their claim that the PDP lacks a political structure in Plateau State for candidates to emerge and contest general elections. They have presented court judgments from various levels to support their claims, and witnesses have been called from all 17 Local Government Areas of the state.
INEC, PDP, and their candidates have also presented extensive INEC documents and called witnesses in opposition to the Petitions across all three panels. The progress continues as both sides present their cases and evidence.