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Nullification of Langtang North/South Constituency: Group knocks Tribunal for meddling into pre-election matters

By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – A Civil Society group, Civil Society Coalition for Credible Elections.
(CIVSOCE) has expressed discontent over the judgement of the Plateau State Election Petition Tribunal which nullified the election of Rt. Hon. Beni Lar representing Langtang North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.

Reacting through a statement issued on Wednesday which was signed by Dr Mahmud Nafiu, Convener, Mr Jonathan Yakubu, General Secretary and Aisha Adama Yamusa, Director of Media, called for reversal of the Tribunal judgement at the Court of Appeal.

Lar contested for the fifth term in the February 25, parliamentary polls and won on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP having scored 42,008 voted, but which was nullified by the Tribunal in a judgement delivered on August 12, 2023.

The CSO contended that the nomination of a candidate which the panel of Justices premised their judgement has been classified as a pre-election matter by the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.

Citing Section 84(14) of the Electoral Amendment Act, the group said, “pre-election matters can only be filed and entertain in the Federal High Court”, insisting that the outcome of the judgement was a flat-out travesty of Justice.

They maintained that, though, a tribunal has coordinate jurisdiction with a Federal High Court, it remains a Special Court as stipulated by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, noting, if the phrase, Tribunal is used in pari-material with the relevant provisions of the Act, “it succinctly captures the word panel.”

The group expressed confidence in the panel of Justices that constituted the Plateau Election Petition Tribunal, adding that the outcome of Langtang North and South could be one of those judicial errors, they believed would be remedied at the higher Court. This, they noted, should be put in the right perspective to guide the higher Court’s decision that the public is carefully monitoring Court’s proceedings.

The CSO in the statement pleaded to be excused from the political dimension of their assertion, but from the point of law, stressing that where a Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain a matter, it becomes fundamentally fatal of any decision that emanated from the case.

“Without sounding political, the judgement nullifying the election of Beni Lar representing Langtang North/South calls for serious concern as it is a pre-election matter.

“The Tribunal claimed that there was no proper Congress that produced Beni Lar as the House of Representatives candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.

“We asked, where lies the power of the party that has the onus of sponsoring a candidate of its choice. We are worried and are seriously asking Appeal Court to look into this case with a view to serve justice.