The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja has upheld the judgment of the tribunal, which declared the Minister of Labour, Simon Lalong, the winner of the Plateau South Senatorial election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had initially declared Napoleon Bali of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the winner of the election, with a total of 148,844 votes. Lalong, contesting under the All Progressives Congress (APC), secured 91,674 votes, placing him second.
However, Lalong challenged the results, arguing that the PDP lacked a valid party structure and, therefore, was ineligible to field candidates for the elections.
The tribunal, in a unanimous judgment, agreed with Lalong’s contention, ruling that the PDP’s failure to adhere to court orders mandating a new state congress rendered its participation in the elections invalid.
The tribunal’s decision was subsequently appealed by the PDP, but the Appeal Court, led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, upheld the tribunal’s ruling. The Appeal Court panel affirmed that the matter fell under both pre-election and post-election categories, granting the tribunal jurisdiction to examine the PDP’s internal party affairs.
Justice Williams-Dawodu further emphasised the PDP’s disregard for court orders, stating that the party’s failure to comply with directives for a new congress rendered its participation in the election null and void.
“Section 287 of the Nigerian Constitution said all are expected to observe orders of the court. The order was in the realm. It is binding all persons. It is immutable and until it is set aside and must be complied with.
“This issue is hereby resolved against the appellant. Invalidly nominated candidates cannot attract lawful votes. This appeal fails. The tribunal judgment is hereby affirmed,” she held.