Confusion as tribunal returns Labour Minister to Senate


  • Lalong may resign FEC position or retain Senate seat

  • Tribunal dismisses ex-Kano Governor’s petition, sacks three Labour Party Reps
  • Uba Group

There is confusion in the political arena as the National and State Houses of Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Jos, Plateau State, on Monday, nullified the election of Senator Napoleon Bali of the People’s Democratic Party as representative of the Plateau South Senatorial District and returned Simon Lalong, Minister of Labour of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the election.

According to the tribunal, the PDP had no valid structure in Plateau State at the time of Bali’s nomination as the candidate for the party in the election.

Lalong, immediate past governor of Plateau State and was Director-General of the Bola Tinubu Presidential Campaign Committee. Should Bali pursue his case to the Court of Appeal and lose, Lalong would face the option of either taking the Senate seat or relinquishing his position in the federal cabinet.

The tribunal also sacked Peter Gyendeng as member representing Barikin Ladi/ Riyom federal constituency of the House of Representatives and declared Fom Dalyop of the Labour Party who came second in the February 25 general election winner.

In their separate rulings, Justice Omaka Elekwo and Justice Muhammad Tukur nullified the election of the two PDP candidates because of the party’s refusal to respect the order of a Jos High court to conduct ward congresses before the last general election.

The justices, therefore, said the evidence presented by the APC and LP candidates were relevant and admissible.

Lalong had earlier lost his bid to represent the people of Plateau South in the 10th Senate.

The two-term APC state chief executive was beaten at the poll by his PDP rival, Air Vice Marshal Napoleon Bali (rtd).

By the defeat, he had set a record of being the first two-term governor of the state to fail to make it to the Senate.

His predecessors, Joshua Dariye and Jonah Jang, both achieved their ambitions.

Meanwhile, the APC in Plateau State has congratulated Lalong over his victory at the election petition tribunal.

The APC in a statement signed by its State Publicity Secretary, Slyvanus Namang, said the tribunal based its ruling mainly on Ground One of the former Governor’s petition that the Plateau State PDP ought not to have participated in the last general elections as it did not have the legal structure to have validly nominated and fielded candidates for the national elections due to its disobedience of court orders, especially the Justice S. P Gang of Plateau State High Court’s unassailable judgment and directive to the party to conduct a congress to constitute a legally binding party executive committee which it bluntly refused to do since 2020.

It pointed out that the judgement was illuminating and put to rest the controversy that the PDP has no legally constituted Exco.

“We want to applaud justices O. Elekwa and O. A. Adetujoye who also concurred with the lead judgement. The judgment, we believe, is a clear roadmap to better days ahead for the APC in the state in the remaining Plateau Tribunal judgments,” the party said.

Lalong has also dedicated his victory at the tribunal to God and the people of Plateau South Senatorial District.

Lalong who received the good news of the tribunal’s judgement while presiding over an official function at the Ministry of Labour and Employment Abuja on Monday, said the decision of the tribunal nullifying the earlier declaration of his opponent and making him the winner is victory for democracy and justice.


He commended the tribunal for painstakingly scrutinising his arguments and presentations of his party, the APC, which culminated in him being declared the duly elected Senator representing Plateau South Senatorial District.

The Labour Minister praised his supporters, leadership and members of the APC in Plateau State for remaining steadfast and remaining calm while awaiting the verdict of the tribunal.

He urged them to continue to maintain peace as they celebrate, even if his opponent decides to appeal the judgement, which is his constitutionally guaranteed right.

In another development, a tribunal sitting in Kano dismissed the petition of former governor of Kano State, Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya, which challenged the victory of Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila.

Justice R O Odogo, who delivered the judgement declared that the petition of the APC senatorial candidate was not only incompetent but was unable to discharge the burden of proof.

“We find no merit in this petition and accordingly, it is hereby dismissed. We affirm the declaration of Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) as the winner of the Kano South Senatorial District election, held on 25th February 2023,” he stated.

The tribunal awarded N200, 000 to the respondent.

Tribunal sacks three Labour Party Reps

In what can be described as a big setback, the Abia National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia on Monday sacked three members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the Labour Party.

One of those sacked was Ibe Okwara Osunwa, the member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal constituency in the House of Representatives.

Okwara was sacked by a panel of the tribunal led by Justice Adeyinka Aderibigbe, for non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022, in a petition filed by the candidate of the APC in the election, Daniel Okeke.

The tribunal ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Osunwa and issue a new one to the APC candidate.

The court ordered a rerun election to be conducted in the Federal Constituency within the next 90 days for a new Representative.

The tribunal noted that Alozie’s declaration as winner of the election into the Federal Constituency was in error and therefore cannot stand.

Justice Muhammad Mahmud who read the judgment of the three-man panel headed by Lawal, said the margin of lead of the LP candidate was less than the number of voters who were disenfranchised in some polling units that collected their Permanent Voters Cards in the Federal Constituency.

The election of the Rep member was voided in the petition filed by the candidate of Young Progressives Party, Ibe Michael Nwoke.

The YP candidate had prayed the court to, among others, nullify the election of Alozie based on the margin of lead.

However, the LP’s Rep member’s counsel said he will appeal the ruling of the tribunal.

Also nullified was the election of the member representing Aba North and South Federal Constituency, Emeka Nnamani.

Nnamani was sacked for certificate forgery.

Consequently, the tribunal declared the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in the election, Alex Ikwueche as the winner.

It therefore ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Nnamani and issue a new one to Ikwueche.

Edo tribunal dismisses LP, APC petitions against Akpatason, Iyawe

Similarly, the National/House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Monday, affirmed the return of the House of Representatives member representing Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency, Peter Akpatason.

The judgement, in the petition marked EPT/ED/HR/10/2023 and filed by the Labour Party candidate, Omobayo Marvellous Godwin, was delivered by Justice Yusuf Mohammed-led three-man panel.

The panel dismissed Godwin’s petition for ‘lacking in merit’ and incompetent, adding that the tribunal cannot make a case for the petitioners.

According to the court, the onus of proof lies on the petitioners and they must not rely on the admissions of the respondents, as the petitioners did not discharge the burden of proof as required by the law, hence, the petition is dismissed.

The panel also held that the petitioners failed woefully to prove that the third respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission, unlawfully declared Akpatason winner of the election.

INEC had declared Akpatason the winner of the election with 14, 982 votes, while Godwin of LP came third with 7992 votes.

Dissatisfied with the declaration, Omobayo approached the tribunal to challenge the return of Akpatason on the grounds of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and others.

The tribunal also dismissed the petition of Osaro Obazee of the APC against the election of Esosa Iyawe, winner of the February 25, 2023 Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Assembly for lack of merit.

Delivering the unanimous judgement on behalf of the panel, Justice K. A. Leweanya held that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the petition which was mainly based on the qualification of the second respondent, Esosa Iyawe.

The tribunal said that the issues raised in the petition were pre-election matters that ought to have been challenged at the Federal High Court within 14 days of the occurrence of the event.

“We held that the 2nd respondent was a member of the 3rd respondent and was duly elected by the party’s primary election and presented to INEC for the election.

“This petition is hereby dismissed and the 2nd respondent is hereby declared winner of the Oredo Federal Constituency election as conducted on February 25, 2023.”