Sensing perceived injustice in its decision halting Bauchi poll Collation, the People Democratic Party yesterday petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) following the Action of Justice Ekwo Inyang of the Federal High court in Abuja halting the collation process that is expected to yield result 2019 Bauchi state governorship election
Governor Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had approached the court after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rescinded its decision to hold a rerun on the inconclusive poll and opted to proceed with counting and result declaration.
The PDP accused Inyang of violating the constitution and Electoral Act by sitting on a matter it claimed should have been handled by an election petition tribunal.
It urged the NJC to save Nigeria’s democracy by taking an urgent step against the alleged violations by Inyang. It further noted that the people of the state have already chosen their next governor by voting for the PDP’s candidate, Bala Mohammed.
By granting an ex parte order stopping INEC from concluding the governorship election in the state, Inyang violated Section 87(11) of the Electoral Act, which states that no court has the power or jurisdiction to stop any election pending the determination of a suit, the PDP said in a statement yesterday by National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan.
An affidavit sworn to by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, in Abuja, reads: “Despite this clear provision of the law, Justice Ekwo decided to hear the application of Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar and his political party, the APC, within 24 hours on March 19, 2019 and issued an order on INEC not to continue with the election until the case before him is finally decided.
“That the collation of results is a post-election event and under Section 87(11) of the Electoral Act, no court has the power or jurisdiction to stop any election pending the determination of a suit.
“That an election includes voting, collation of results and the declaration of results. That as a result of the order on INEC, the conclusion of the Bauchi State governorship election, which was to take place on March 19, 2019 was stalled.
“That the order of Justice Ekwo was made contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended dealing without fair hearing and also section 87(11) of the Electoral Act.
“That the Chief Justice of Nigeria has constituted various Election Petition Tribunals in Nigeria to handle such cases and the assumption of jurisdiction by Justice Inyang Ekwo is an affront to the constitution and electoral wishes of the people of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area and Bauchi State.”
But while the governorship seat seethes in legal waters, the PDP yesterday defeated the APC in the Tafawa Balewa House of Assembly poll.
The controversial result was cancelled on March 10, 2019, following the disruption of collation. The party clinched 29,933 votes while the APC had 25,210 as INEC resumed collation yesterday.
Some lawyers who spoke to The Guardian said the PDP’s petition is in order.
They held that when a judge who does not have jurisdiction over such a sensitive matter assumes authority and make a consequential order on what should be a post-election case, a petition is desirable.
Meanwhile, All Progressive Congress has alleged a plot by the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to tamper with INEC’s database.
“We note Atiku’s consistent reference to the ‘INEC server’ as if he is the custodian of that platform. Indeed, Atiku’s constant reference should raise concerns as it is becoming apparent that he and the PDP are up for some dastardly activities that are targeted at jeopardizing the database and internal storage system,” said a statement by APC National Publicity Secretary Lanre Issa Onilu.
The statement added: “Judging by Atiku and PDP’s recent utterances and actions, it is now clear that they have slipped into severe depression and post-defeat hallucination that have left many Nigerians questioning their current state of mind.”