By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – The legal team of the Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has clarified that the sacking of the lawmaker representing Bassa/Jos North federal constituency, Musa Agah by a National Assembly election tribunal in Jos does not affect the party’s participation in the 2023 elections.

Recall that Agah was sacked by the tribunal last Friday and the candidate of the People’s Redemption Party, PRP declared the winner of the bye-election conducted in February 2022.

Some of the grounds which led to the sacking of the lawmaker had raised concerns that the PDP may not participate in the general elections next year.

Clarifying the situation, the legal team of the Party through Barr. Sunny Odey, Esq. said, “The Legal Team has observed that opponents and some mischief makers are peddling the falsehood that PDP and its candidates may not be on the ballot for the 2023 general elections as a fallout of the recent Tribunal decision delivered on Friday, 2nd September 2022 in respect of the Jos North/Bassa House of Representatives bye-election.

“We hasten to clarify that the decision of the Election Tribunal relates only to the primaries conducted for the Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency bye-election which the tribunal erroneously nullified by relying on the Justice Kunda judgment which purported to justify the unprecedented exclusion of PDP from participating in the 2021 Local Government Council elections. Please note that the Justice Kunda Judgment is now on Appeal before the Supreme Court.

“We wish to state without doubt or equivocation that even though the judgment of the Election Tribunal is being appealed with very meritorious Grounds of Appeal, it has no bearing whatsoever on the nomination and qualification of candidates of the People’s Democratic Party Plateau State for the 2023 governorship and legislative assembly elections.”

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He added that “It is pertinent to enlighten PDP members, its teeming supporters and the voting public of the following facts: The primaries that produced Hon. Musa Agah as the PDP Candidate was conducted under the 2010 Electoral Act while the primaries that produced candidates for the 2023 elections were conducted under the 2022 Electoral Act.

“The 2022 Electoral Act excluded all statutory delegates i.e., mainly EXCO members of any party from being delegates during the Congresses that produced candidates for the 2023 elections. The Chris Hassan-led EXCO which is mischievously rumoured to be illegal emerged through a democratic and transparent process, and there are no known legal impediments (except self-serving extrapolations by merchants of fortune) hindering them from performing their constitutional duties.

“The PDP and its Legal Team have always been proactive and had envisaged the possibility of using underhand tactics to stop the preferred PDP candidates from winning the 2023 elections, and took steps to forestall such. Knowing the capacity of the opponents of the PDP for mischief, impunity and deliberate misinformation, the National Secretariat of the party pleaded with the Chris Hassan EXCO to step aside for the period of the Congresses and allow a Local Organizing Committee it constituted to oversee the process.”

Odey maintained that “The congress which produced the ad hoc delegates of the PDP during the Ward Congresses (unlike the other party which did not conduct any congress to elect delegates) were duly organized and supervised by the Ward Congress Committee appointed by the National Secretariat of the party and went smoothly in over 95% of the Wards.

“The few complaints that arose from the Ward Congresses have been largely resolved through the Party’s robust dispute resolution mechanism. The 2022 Electoral Act, PDP Constitution and Guidelines for the Congresses indicate the time allowed for appeals as well as those entitled to file such appeals.”
Odey further stressed, “It is gratifying and re-assuring to note that since Governorship primaries were concluded in May 2022, there has not been a single administrative or legal complaint by any of the noble aspirants who contested with the candidate of the party Barr. Caleb Mutfwang.

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“The Election Tribunal did not make any pronouncement as to the status and legitimacy of the State leadership of the Party as presently constituted as being mischievously circulated. The Party has decided to file an appeal against the judgment to remedy the monumental travesty of justice, and we believe that the Court of Appeal will do a better job than what the Tribunal came up with.

“We trust that the judgment of the Tribunal will be set aside with victory restored to PDP. We, therefore, call upon the electorate and Party faithful to remain calm.”