Minority Caucus condemns warped Appeal Court judgements

House, Caucus

..says honour of judiciary at stake, portends danger for democracy

By Tom Okpe

The House of Representatives Minority Caucus has condemned what it described as ‘warped’ Appeal Court judgements in Plateau State, saying honour of the judiciary is at stake.

He also said it portends danger for the nation’s nascent democracy.

Recall that three Representatives from Plateau State, Beni Lar, Musa Bagos and Peter Gyendeng all of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) were sacked by the Appeal Court last week.

Minority Leader in the House, Kingsley Chinda denounced the judgments of the Appeal Court, which removed opposition lawmakers from Plateau State in the House of Representatives which he said, eroded public interest, and called to question, the impartiality of the judiciary.

In a statement issued by Rep Chinda in Abuja yesterday, he declared that: “We are shocked that the Justices of the Appeal Court delivered judgements that are not only conflicting, but negates proven and established legal precedence.

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“With due respect to the justices, the grounds in which the Justices reached their unfortunate and regrettable judgments are totally unacceptable, ludicrous, capricious and outrightly, unlawful.

“The obvious illogic which characterised the judgments falls short of our constitutional and electoral jurisprudence.”

Chinda wondered why, despite the well established jurisprudence on pre-election matters, the justices decided to side-track, neglect, and jettison established precedents, clearly and explicitly, delivered by the Supreme Court.

“It’s not only sad and painful; but shameful that the justices, in their warped wisdom, gave such patently prejudiced and inconsistent judgements without respect for existing substantive and procedural law.

“Recall that in May 2023, in the Peoples Democratic Power, (PDP) versus Kashim Shettima, the Supreme Court, in dismissing the appeal, ruled that, ‘you cannot challenge a political party over structure even if it does not have the structure.’

“Also, the Supreme Court dismissed Allied Peoples Mandate’s suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) on the same ground.

“Similarly, in October 2023, the Appeal Court, in strict adherence to established jurisprudence, dismissed a matter by All Progressives Congress, (APC) candidate for a House of Representatives seat in Borno state against the PDP.

Speaking further, the Minority Leader said: “Since there are many pronouncements by the Supreme Court, which is the final court in Nigeria, on pre-election and similar issues, it is binding on all parties.

“Having laid this very necessary and useful background, one can safely conclude that the actions and decisions of the justices in Plateau State is a travesty, and calls to questions the time-tested and serially-proven attributes of the judiciary as an impartial, responsive and transparent body.

“The conflicting judgements are insensitive, repulsive, insidious, and tantamount to gross abuse of judicial process.”

While expressing worries about the implications of the conflicting judgements by the appeal court justices, Rep Chinda declared that if left unchecked and promptly addressed, it may have far-reaching impacts on the judiciary and democracy in Nigeria.

“This would discredit, portray and give the judiciary very negative image. The trust and impartiality character of the judiciary would be completely eroded.

These anomalies would not only call to question our values as a people and country but may have negative effects on the growth and deepening of democracy.

“It is proper to advise the Nigeria Judicial Council, and leadership of the Appeal Court to as a matter of necessity, review these judgements, and where possible, ensure that justice prevails, considering their implications on our jurisprudence, nascent democracy and national development.”

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