PDP Demands Disbandment of Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel Over Varying and Conflicting Judgments …Seeks Review of Judgements, Petitions NJC
By Hon. Debo Ologunagba
(We want) to draw attention of Nigerians and the International Community to a dangerous pattern of varying and conflicting judicial pronouncements by the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel sitting in Abuja to undermine Democracy and the expressed Will of the people of Plateau State in the 2023 National Assembly Elections.
This frightening pattern by the Plateau Appeal Court Panel constitutes a clear and present danger to our democratic process, national peace and stability; a bad precedent for judicial mischief and particularly a recipe for anarchy, chaos and breakdown of Law and Order in already tensed Plateau State.
The people of Plateau State are unsettled by allegations in the public domain that the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel has been hugely compromised and induced by the failed All Progressives Congress (APC) in Plateau State to undermine the Will of the people by snatching elections clearly won by the PDP and awarding same to the APC as now evidenced in its inexplicable varying judgments on same election context and circumstances.
What can explain the brazen departure by the Appeal Court Panel from the judicial practice where cases with similar facts and applicable laws, especially before the same Court, at the same material time, result in different outcomes?
Curiously, the Panel in the most concerning pattern reached different conclusions with respect to election appeals with the same subject matter, same facts, same circumstances and same applicable laws in bias judgements clearly skewed against the PDP in favour of the APC.
As you are aware, from the votes cast in the 2023 general elections, the PDP recorded a sweeping victory over the APC in Plateau State.
However, apparently in a mission to assist the APC in its plots to rob our Party of victory, the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel gave varying and conflicting judgments in Appeals before it despite the clear similarity in facts, circumstances and applicable laws.
What is more disturbing is that in all the Appeal cases, the Court ordered a rerun where the PDP won and the APC came third, while where the APC came second, it ordered that the Certificate of Return issued to the victorious PDP candidate be withdrawn and a new Certificate of Return be issued to the APC candidate, who came second in the election.
Specifically, in the case of Plateau North Senatorial District won by Sen. Simon Mwadkwon of the PDP and the APC candidate coming third, the Panel in its judgment in Court of Appeal No. CA/J/EP/PL/SEN/12/2023 delivered on
Sunday 22nd October, 2023 curiously annulled PDP’s victory and ordered INEC to conduct a rerun election among all the Parties.
In the case of Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency won by Hon. Musa Agar of the PDP and where the APC candidate also came third, the Panel in its judgment in Court of Appeal No. CA/J/EP/PL/HR/14/2023 delivered on Friday 27th October, 2023 annulled the victory of the PDP and ordered a rerun excluding the PDP.
In the third Appeal Case of Shendam/Quaan-Pan/Mikang Federal Constituency, won by Hon. Isaac Kwallu of the PDP with John Dafwan of the APC as runner-up, the Appeal Court Justices in Court of Appeal No. CA/J/EP/PL/HR/18/2023 annulled the victory of the PDP candidate, declared the APC candidate as outright winner and ordered that the Certificate of Return issued to the victorious PDP candidate be withdrawn and a fresh Certificate of Return issued to the APC candidate.
The Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel judgements has heightened tension in Plateau State and is capable of triggering a serious crisis as the people believe that the Appeal Panel is on a paid mission to take away the mandate which they freely gave to the PDP candidates at the elections and illegally awarding them to the APC.
These conflicting verdicts by the same Panel of Justices has the consequence to gravely impugn on the integrity of the Appeal Court and the Institution of the Judiciary even as it further appears to lend credence to allegations of inducement by the APC.
The Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel judgements are not only capable of inflaming passion and likely to set the stage for crisis in Plateau State but also likely to ridicule and bring the Institution of the Judiciary to public opprobrium.
The situation presents pertinent issues which must be immediately addressed especially as the people of Plateau State have already lost confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel as presently constituted.
In the light of the foregoing, the PDP, in line with the aspiration and expectation of the people of Plateau State demands as follows;
1. That the President of the Court of Appeal immediately disband the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel.
2. That a new Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel be constituted to hear the remaining Appeals as the current panel has shown manifest bias to unduly favour the APC candidates. The continued retention of the present Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel will be construed by the people of Plateau State as an act of insensitivity and injustice.
3. That the manifestly biased and inconsistent judgments of the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel already delivered in the Appeals be subjected to judicial review.
Meanwhile, the PDP has instructed our lawyers to take necessary steps to petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the reported conduct of the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel which is clearly unbecoming of judicial officers.
The PDP charges all members, critical stakeholders, supporters and the people of Plateau State to remain calm but be at alert especially in their determination to use every means within the ambit of the law to protect and defend their Will as expressed at the elections.
● Mr. Ologunagba, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP delivered this address at a press conference in Abuja.