By Marie-Therese Nanlong – Jos
Despite the nod by the Court of Appeal that election in Plateau State be held in the 17 local government areas of the State on Saturday, October 9, 2021, the electorate shun most of the polling units and rather went about doing other activities.
Monitored reports from credible sources show voters’ apathy across polling units in the 17 local government areas.
It would be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which had been excused from participating in the said election by the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission, PLASIEC had sought an injunction order to prevent the electoral body from conducting the election on the said day.
But a late Friday night ruling by Hon. Justice Boloukuromo Ugo dismissed the application as the judges unanimously said it was the duty of the court to uphold the constitution and not to be seen to be embarking on measure to violates it or be seen to favour the illegal contraption of the appointment of undemocratic leaders like caretaker committees for local government areas by the Governor.
The judges said it was unheard of, that courts will allow the stoppage of holding of an election that has already been scheduled as contained in section 87(10) of the electoral act 2010.
Reacting to the ruling, Counsel to PDP, Edward Pwajok, SAN said, “I must appreciate the Court of Appeal for sitting today because it is a day the Governor of the State have claimed to set aside as a public holiday still sat in the interest of justice.
“We have been here since 9 am, it is about 11 pm, I do not want to underrate the sacrifice that the court made in ensuring that they listened to arguments from all of us and delivered their ruling.
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“Let me highlight the two reasons that they gave for delivering the ruling. They said one, they refused our application for injunction because it might not accord with the tenet of democracy because both the court of Appeal and the Supreme court have always encouraged the existence of democratic structures at the local government level.
“They have always deprecated the setting up of Caretaker committees so in their view, if they had ruled in our favour, it probably would have led the Governor of Plateau State to set up a Caretaker Committee in the local government areas.”
Pwajok added, “Of course they also mentioned the argument I canvassed before them earlier that there are four local government areas in Plateau State that for so many years have been run by Caretaker Committees like Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom.
“They said that is the more reason they do not want to encourage the government to continue in that manner of should I say; lawlessness and Executive recklessness so they want a duly elected executive in place.
“Now the court adjourned the hearing of the main appeal to the 22nd of October, 2021. Let me add on a very serious note and to appeal to the electorate of Plateau State to be calm, patient and hopeful of a positive outcome of the appeal at the end of the day.
“We have filed a motion of appeal containing 26 solid grounds, if anybody prepares for an appeal with 26 grounds, that tells you that they are very serious about the issue.
“We have not lost confidence, we still have hope in the judiciary, if I had the time to begin to narrate to you the instances that the courts have nullified elections, it will take a long time.
“So, we should also pray for our judiciary to do a good job so that the right thing will be done.”
Meanwhile, the State Governor, Simon Lalong has praised the electorate for their peaceful conduct.
He spoke shortly after voting alongside his wife, Regina at about 10:30am, saying he was impressed with the turnout and enthusiasm in his ward.
Commenting on the outcome in the court, he stated, “We had no fear because we know the courts will do justice according to our laws.
“Even if they had ruled that the elections would not hold, we would have had nothing to do but to obey the ruling.
“The APC as a party has high regard for the courts and believes that it is a very important part of the democratic culture which we must build.”
He explained that though there were concerns about security, the Government took all necessary measures to ensure that the election come and go smoothly without any hindrance and assured that the will of the people expressed through the ballot box will be allowed to prevail.
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