Umpires in the Temple of Justice have been admonished to carry out their judgments with integrity, fear of God and ensure the collective will of the People are not subverted.
A group under the auspice of Christian and Muslim Interfaith Group made this known in Jos, the Plateau State Capital in a World Press Conference on the “2023 General elections, conflicting court judgements and the consequences to peaceful coexistence on the Plateau”
The group in the text jointly signed by Evang. Joshua Ringsum and Imam Othman Abdullahi said it is compelled to address the Press Conference over what it described as ‘unhealthy’ and ‘dangerous’ development in the polity which if not properly addresses may spell doom for the State.It said having witnessed the upheavals that engulfed Plateau State in time past which led to the loss of precious lives and destruction of property worth billions of naira as well as the efforts made by critical stakeholders for the return of relative peace which is being enjoyed in the State, it will not keep mum and watch desperate Politicians scuttle the peace on account of their selfish motives.
The body said while many predicted a bloody 2023 general elections in Plateau State, the Citizens of the State conducted themselves in an orderly manner before, during and after the elections thereby putting naysayers to shame.
“The exercise in Plateau State turned out to be one of the most peaceful in the Country as eligible voters lined up in the sun and voted the candidates of their choices.We are however taken aback with the role of the Judiciary with respect to the Tribunals set up to look into petitions filed by aggrieved candidates after the elections. Our concern with the tribunals is hinged on their internal conflicting decisions in some cases and in some, over ruling the decisions of superior Courts.For instance, the conflicting judgments delivered by Justices Rotimi Williams Olamide and M. B. Tukur of the National and State Houses of Assembly Plateau Election Petition Tribunal almost took the State into another round of bloodshed but for God’s intervention, else, activities on the Plateau would have turn sour again” it said.
It further stated that while still wondering why some judges discarded the law for whatever reason, the Court of Appeal in the Appeal between Labour Party against PDP and PRP against PDP for Plateau North Senatorial Zone and Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency respectively dropped the biggest shocker by delivering a judgment which legal luminaries described as “all time goofed” and on Friday 27th October, 2023 the Appeal Court nullified the election of the Member right representing Mikang/Shendam/Qua’an-Pan Federal Constituency in the National Assembly and ordered the electoral Umpire, INEC to withdraw the Certificate of return from him and issue same to the APC Candidate.
The group hinted that it is appalled that at a time when issues pertaining the nomination and sponsorship of Candidates have been firmly established by the Supreme Court, it is at lost that the Appeal Panels for Plateau Petitions seems allegedly to be heeding to the plea of some interested and desperate Politicians seeking the removal of Plateau elected members by whatever means. It disclosed that this is more so that the two judgments contradicted the previous ones delivered by the same Court of Appeal on petitions involving other States.
“Recall that on Friday 20th October, 2023, in the case of Tarfaya Asarya of the APC challenging the Nomination, qualification and sponsorship of the PDP Candidate, Dr. Midala Balami and also challenging the disobedience of the Supreme Court order by the PDP in Borno State; the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja led by Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme held that under Section 285(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the tribunal had a special jurisdiction to determine whether anyone was validly elected.Justice Chioma said that the scope of the jurisdiction conferred on the Tribunal by the Constitution cannot be expanded to include the determination of the validity of the conduct of Primary election or nomination of Candidates by Political parties. “The Appeal Court further held that the appropriate place to challenge the nomination, sponsorship or qualification of a Candidate, including the disobedience of Court Order by a Political Party is the Federal High Court, not the Tribunal or Appeal Court or any other Court. “Justice Chioma affirmed the judgment of the Tribunal in Borno that said the nomination, sponsorship, and qualification of Candidates, including disobedience to Court Orders are pre-election matters that can only be challenged at the Federal High Court. This and other decisions from the Supreme Court on nomination and sponsorship of Candidates as pre-election matter must also come to bear” the group said.
The group asked why the decision involving Plateau petitions different.
The Group warned that the contradictory and conflicting judgments being issued by the election tribunals leading to the sacking of elected persons has the propensity of boomeranging into an uprising in Plateau State.The group called on the National Judicial Council (NJC) to accord special attention on the panels handling Plateau Petitions in order to save the State from the unnecessary tension on account of contradictory and conflicting judgments dispensed to erode the popular mandate of the people through technicalities.
While calling on the Citizens of the State to remain law-abiding and not take the law into the hands, the group called on desperate Politicians to give peace a chance on the Plateau and admonished the Appeal Court and the Judiciary to desist from employing technicalities and twisted judicial logic to upturn the popular decisions taken by the People of Plateau State during the general elections.
“We are calling on the Court of Appeal and the judiciary to as a matter of concern not to drag us into another conflict on the Plateau” the group concluded.
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