Mr. Bitrus Zulfa says he remains the Chairman of Langtang North Local Government Council of Plateau in spite of a court judgment obtained by Mr. Joshua Laven laying claim to the seat.
Zulfa was elected at the Oct. 9, 2021 election conducted by the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) and was sworn in alongside other council chairmen by Gov. Simon Lalong.
However, Laven went to court and challenged PLASIEC, the Plateau government and two other defendants for conducting election into the office of the chairman of Langtang North Local Government Council when his tenure had not lapsed.
Laven won the chairmanship of the local government in 2018 but was not inaugurated.
He challenged his non-inauguration in court in 2019 and won the case and was subsequently sworn in on Oct. 9, 2019 for a-three-year tenure to lapse on Oct. 9, 2022.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Ishaku Kunda, in a declarative judgment said that there was no local government election in Langtang North Local Government on Oct. 9, 2021 in the eyes of the law.
He said that the seat of the Langtang Local Government Council Chairman was not vacant at the time election was conducted on Oct. 9, 2021.
Addressing newsmen in Jos on Tuesday, Zulfa said the judgment obtained by Laven had nothing to do with him or with the Langtang North Local Government Council; therefore, he remained the chairman.
“I must state in unambiguous terms that neither I nor Langtang North Local Government Council is a party to the suit and the judgment obtained by Laven.
“I am very much aware that Laven does not know, but I will take the pain to explain to him in a language he can understand that judgments cannot be executed against non-parties.
“The law in this regard has not changed; that judgments cannot be enforced against persons who are not parties to a suit.
“Had he wanted to execute the judgment against me or against Langtang North Local Government Council, he would have sued me and Langtang North Local Government Council as parties to his suit, but, he didn’t.
“To my mind, this is an elementary principle of common sense that needs no interpretation by any lawyer.
“Consequently, my position as Executive Chairman of Langtang North Local Government Council is not affected in any way,’’ he said.
According to him, the judgment obtained by Laven has already been appealed against and the notice and grounds of appeal adequately served on him.
Zulfa, a lawyer, said once there was an appeal against a judgment; parties were expected not to tamper with the status quo in order not to render the judgment of the Appellate Court nugatory.
“In this regard, the legal procedure is for Laven to be patient to allow all the legal processes to be exhausted.
“Upon obtaining judgment from the court, it is not for the party who has obtained judgment to enforce same as did Laven.
“It is for the court’s Sheriffs, in company of law enforcement agents to enforce same against persons who are party to the said judgment.
“The resort to self-help by Laven and his supporters by destroying part of the main gate leading to Langtang North Local Government Council secretariat is an act of criminality,’’ he stressed.
Zulfa added that the sealing of the local government secretariat by the police was just for peace and security of the local government’s properties.
Reacting to Zulfa’s claim, Laven told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that there was no vacancy in the chairmanship seat of Langtang North Local Government Council when the former contested the election.
“I remain the authentic chairman of the council,’’ he stressed.
He also refuted Zulfa’s claim that he forcefully invaded the council secretariat with thugs saying that it was Zulfa that went with thugs to occupy an office that was not vacant.
Laven thanked the Commissioner of Police in Plateau, Bathlomew Onyeka, for sealing the secretariat to avoid breakdown of law and order. (NAN).