Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong says he was pushed by a suit from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to carry out County elections last Saturday. In the polls held across the 17 Counties in the State, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party won all Chairmanship and Councillors seats according to the results released by the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) on Sunday.
PDP, Nigeria’s leading opposition Party was excluded from the polls by PLASIEC for not establishing democratic leadership structure as required by law to qualify for the polls, leaving the APC as a lone Party contesting the Chairmanship polls. About eight unpopular parties fielded candidates for Councillor positions in some LGAs but none was victorious.
A High Court and an Appeal Court in Jos the capital of the State last week affirmed PDP’s exclusion from the polls. The PDP appealed the judgment of the High Court last two weeks but waited in vain on the eve of the polls for the Appeal Court to overturn the judgment of the High Court.
Tensions were high till about 10pm local time when judges announced that the PDP did not comply with legal conditions for participation in the polls, giving an endorsement for the polls which the PDP sought to halt.
Mr. Lalong told Journalists on Saturday at his country home in Ajikamai in Shendam LGA that he was excited at the judgment of the appeal Court. “To prepare for election for a whole year and come and stop it on the eve of the election. That would have been unfair. But again we submitted ourselves to the court to the judiciary to decide. If judiciary had said we will not conduct elections we will not say anything we will keep quiet and wait for elections,” he said.
However, Lalong said he was compelled by different suits previously including one by the PDP to conduct the polls despite security threats which prevented elections in four northern LGAs in the last three years.
“The same PDP took me to court. They said I was just crying foul that I didn’t want to conduct election. They said Plateau is safe but I didn’t want to conduct elections. I have the case there it’s still in the High Court. They said if I didn’t conduct elections there will be crisis.
“We already promised that we will not be moving to another caretaker committee in view of the [recent] Supreme Court judgement. The caretaker committee is null and void. Of course two days ago, there was a case in Kwara [State].
They [Court] nullified caretaker committees and that was what motivated me and I said we must transit from a democratic regime to another democratic regime,” said Lalong.
The Governor clarified that he had no influence on PDP’s exclusion, noting that the APC had fallen victim of same in other States.
He said, “This is not the first time this is happening. We lost out in Rivers like this when we were in clash with ourselves – APC and APC. By the time it got to the election, the court have judgment that we were out of the election. We didn’t shout. We obeyed the court order and allowed everything to move freely.
“In Zamfara, we won every election from House of Assembly to the local governments but the supreme Court said no, they gave it to PDP. Fire did not come down in Zamfara.
“In Bayelsa we won election. We had even sworn in the Governor. The Supreme Court said no. We didn’t say anything. No APC faithful was involved in PDP affairs. They dribbled themselves out.”