By Marie-Therese Nanlong
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State, in the 2019 elections Senator Jeremiah Useni, and his party, have asked the Governorship Election Tribunal sitting at West of Mines, Jos to declare the candidate of the All Progressives Party, APC, Simon Lalong unqualified to contest the election in which Lalong emerged winner.
Useni and the PDP are challenging Lalong’s victory at the tribunal and the case also has the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the APC as 1st and 3rd respondents respectively.
Useni and the PDP alleged that Lalong was ineligible to assume the position of governor, having submitted a different certificate which bears the name “Simon Sule Bako” to the electoral umpire (INEC), a name different from Simon Bako Lalong which the governor is known with hence their prayer that all votes cast for Lalong be rendered null and void.
Counsel to the petitioners, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), argued that if it is discovered that the governor did not qualify to contest the election, then the tribunal would have no need to enter further hearing on the main petitions.
Counsel to the APC, Garba Pwul (SAN), in his reply, faulted PDP and Useni’s petition, arguing that the issue raised is a pre-election matter which should not be entertained by the tribunal and that the same name was used by the Governor during his first term without any problem.
Chairman of the three-man Tribunal, Justice Halima Salman said ruling on the matter will be delivered during the final judgement and having concluded pre-hearing session on governorship petitions said a hearing on the substantive matter would commence on 26th June 2019.