The Plateau State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital under the Lordship of Justice Candide Johnson after adopting their final written addresses of the petitioners to the governorship tribunal, GNS Pwajok, Yilji Gomwalk and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) versus Simon Bako Lalong (1st respondent), All Progressive Congress (APC, second respondent) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC, 3rd respondent) has set for judgment in Abuja this week .
Governor Simon Lalong, Chief of Staff, John Dafan, APC State Chairman, Latep Dabang, Deputy Chief of Staff, Gambo Hawaja, DOPA, Emmanuel Nanle and most government appointees in attendance on Friday, 02 October 2015.
The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Candide Johnson asked the bar where the tribunal stopped and Mr. Robert Clarke SAN, the leading counsel to the petitioners reminded the court to give direction “we are to give our final written addresses and there are three respondents apart from the petitioners.” He informed the tribunal that the petitioners have filled four processes, namely; the petitioner’s final written address to the 3rd respondent dated 17th September, 2015 and filled on the same day; filled final written address to the 1st respondent; filled a reply to the 3rd respondent’s response and also a reply on point of law to the 3rd respondent’s reply to petitioner’s written address dated 30th September, 2015 and filled on the same day; and the petitioner’s final address to the 1st respondent dated 24th September, 2015 and filled on the same day, and the last process filled by the petitioners were the written addresses to the 2nd respondent, filled on the 27th September, 2015 following the decision of the Court of Appeal judgement which produces exhibit B and exhibit B.
On the part of Mr. Lateef Fagbemi SAN, the leading counsel to the for 1st respondent, Simon Lalong, told the tribunal that he has four processes, namely; affidavit written on 6th of June, 2015 and filled on the same day; reply on point of law dated and filled on 23rd June, 2015; 1st respondent’s written address dated and filled on 18th September, 2015; and the 1st respondents reply to the petitioner’s written address dated 30th September, 2015 and filled on 1st October, 2015.
Fagbemi also notified the tribunal of Certified True Copy of the Court of Appeal Judgement on the PW15 (Forensic Expert’s report) delivered on the 19th of September, 2015.
In his submission, Mr. Garba Pwul SAN, the lead counsel to the APC also told the tribunal that he filled four processes including the 2nd respondent’s notice of preliminary objection dated and filled on the 27th June, 2015; 2nd respondent’s reply to the petitioner’s dated and filled on 27th, June, 2015; a final written address written and filled on the 18th September, 2015; and a reply on point of law filled to the reply of the petitioners and the 2nd respondent address and filled on the 2nd of October, 2015.
In their submission, the INEC, the 3rd respondent told the tribunal that their final written address was dated 22nd September, 2015 and filled on the 23rd September, 2015 with one additional process filled on the 2nd of October, 2015.
After the adoption of final written addresses, counsels to the petitioners, 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents argued on why the tribunal should rule in their favour. The petitioners want the tribunal to either give it outright victory or allow for a rerun considering lack of substantial compliance in the 11 LGAs out of the 17 LGAs since there were massive malpractices in the 7LGAsthe PDP is questioning and the 4LGAs Lalong and the APC questioning at the tribunal.
In the alternative, the petitioners are asking for a composite judgement and the anticipatory judgement of the Supreme Court in its favour.
Fagbemi SAN, the counsel to governor Lalong wants outright dismissal of the petition for lack of merit since the PW15 witness report has been asked to jettison by the Court of Appeal.
In his argument, Mr. Pwul SAN, counsel to the APC wants the court to dismiss the petition or in the alternative, allow for a re-run.
After quoting various references to strengthen their arguments, the tribunal came to a close at 2:25pm with the presiding Jude, Justice Candide Johnson telling the counsels that they will be communicated the date for final judgment.
PDP and APC supporters thronged the High Court premises to sway sympathy for their parties. The governor and his entourage were booed at the tribunal.