A Nigerian candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2023 Plateau Central Senatorial District election, Chief Amb. Golkuna Gotom, has rejected in strong terms the Judgment delivered on Tuesday by the National/State Houses of Assembly Petitions Tribunal that sat in Jos.
Gotom has described the final outcome of the election and the judgment delivered by the Tribunal Panel chaired by Hon. Justice B. M. Tukur as the “first African Magic”.
Gotom who spoke to journalists in Jos, said while the parties in the election and their candidates were waiting for a proposed supplementary election by the Returning Officer of INEC for close to two months, INEC suddenly reappeared and declared the result and return Diket Plang as the winner of the election.
Speaking in an interview, Gotom said, “I am the winner of the 2023 Plateau Central Senatorial election.
“Basically, I expect journalists to tell the world of what made the case linger this long.
“To me this was because, when the election took place on 25th February, 2023, instead of declaring the result within a day or two, INEC took almost 5 days to collate the results.
“And at this point, the Returning Officer Prof. Daniel Dabi had declared the result of the election inconclusive, with a margin of lead of 673 votes. According to him, the margin of lead would have to move for a rerun. That is supplementary.
“We waited for this supplementary election and it never came within the stipulated 7 days as indicated by the electoral act 2022 (as amended).
“Surprisingly, INEC did a magic that has never happened in the history of Africa hence we still remain confused on why INEC took the decision after two months precisely (15th of April, 2023) and directing the returning officer to go and declare APC”.
Gotom submitted that the real Returning Officer, Prof. Daniels had refused to declare anybody as the winner of the election, though he had disclosed to everyone that I am leading by a reasonable margin.
He said, “Earlier, as you know, Prof Daniels had declared me as the winner of the election and that he will never declare anything or any other person as the winner of the election.
“This is because the results he has shows that the true winner is me.
“If a rerun was conducted by INEC, definitely I would have been declared. But rather than coming to do the expected, INEC came and appointed another person who was illegal, Dr. Jimam Lar, who is a staff of the University of Jos as the new returning officer”.
Adding that, “It was Dr. Jimam that declared the result that Diket Plang is the winner of the election on the 15th of April, 2023.
“We had also expected them to conduct a review of the election, this also was not done, but outside the Electoral Act, they declared someone else.
“The Returning officer, Prof. Dabi came to the Tribunal chaired by Hon. Justice B. M. Tukur told the court that as far as he is concerned, there has never been a winner in the Senatorial election for Plateau Central Senatorial District.
“According to his evidence, he told the court that he did not declare any of the candidates or their political party as winners of the election. That he is even surprised to hear that a winner had emerged.
“To me and the world, this is the magic of INEC!
“To God be the Glory, the Plateau State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Oliver Agundu was supposed to come to the Tribunal to produce the results of the election, but up to this time I am talking to you, he is still on the run.
“Secondly, the reason why the petition is coming late is because the result and declaration was done after 2 months by INEC. This is clearly against the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“I have been briefed by my Lawyers of what took place at the Tribunal and the details of the Judgment.
“I am also convinced by the decision of my lawyers to go on appeal. They are my key advisers on this issue and I support the move hundred percent.
“What we are trying to do is to redeem the image of democracy in Nigeria. You know the government has redefined democracy as government to be government for themselves, So, if the judiciary does not stand for the majority, then something is already missing.
“I expect the Tribunal as the representative of government to have ushered in Justice, equity and fairness in the discharge of this responsibility.
“First, how would you expect a scenario where the law stipulates that results should be declared within 7 days as contained in Section 65 of the Act, and INEC went ahead to declare the results after 2 months.
“One of the basic issues is the fact that the Respondents challenged the cancellation of the results from Gagdi Ward and that the Returning Officer of INEC, Dr. Dabi does not have the powers to cancel these results.
“Section 64(7) provides that the returning officer has the ability and capability to review every result and produce a new position. Meaning that, if he discovers alterations, over-voting among other issues, he has powers and capacity to reproduce. So, if he can reproduce that means he would have cancelled something.
“At the end of the day, we are convinced that INEC brought a replacement copy and this means that something has been replaced. So, I want to know which result did INEC replace. As I said, the replacement copy is available but the doctored result is not. We therefore want to challenge the legality of the Tribunal position.
“You are aware that 3 of our grounds are issues of noncompliance, over-voting and alterations of results.
“The Law provides in section 135 and 137 of the Act that, if the manipulations or alterations manifest on the face of the result, the petitioners don’t need to call witnesses. This is because 2 plus 2 is equal to 4.
“If you discovered where 5 is written, it simply amounts to over-voting. In that case, the IRev has explained the results in black and white. So, no need to call a witness.
“We called 7 witnesses to prove our case in the Tribunal.
“I therefore want to ask these questions: was Diket an agent in the election? Was he the returning officer of the election, or whether he was a participant in the organization of the result? The answer to these questions is in the negative!
“Why would he then come to testify in his own case? They have taken the result and declared him the legal winner and using the Party Structure as a reason.
I still want to reiterate that PDP has a structure and is the only party in Nigeria that is well rooted. I also want to say that we have obeyed the alleged court orders.
“The State Chairman, Chris Hassan won in the repeated congress with majority of the votes twice.
However I want to ask the tribunal these 10 questions.
1) Where are the election results the Tribunal directed the Plateau State REC to produce during the hearing of the Petition?
2) What was the reason(s) for shifting the Zoom Judgment from 10am to 2pm on the 31st of October, 2023.
3) Is the Tribunal confirming Dr. Jimam Lar’s declaration after 2 months, when the Electoral Act 2022 provides that INEC can only declare results within 7 days?
4) How can the Tribunal hold that Prof. Daniel Dabi’s report is his opinion yet, used the results he collated to award victory to Diket Plang?
5) How can an election be won without a declaration by the legal Returning Officer of INEC?
6) Is the Tribunal ready to explain to the electorate that there was compliance in the said Judgment?
7) Why is it that the duplicate of results produced by the Petitioners be used to award victory to the Respondent in the face of the fact that INEC REC failed to produce the same documents despite the Subpoena served on him?
8) Is it not a fact that APC did not call witnesses throughout the hearing of the Petition to defend their case?
9) Why has the Tribunal discountenanced the evidence of the real Returning Office of the election that there was no declaration of result?
10) Is the Tribunal not aware that INEC did not call witnesses?