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Plateau: Fate of sacked PDP lawmakers sealed – Lawyers

Lawyers have said the fate of the sacked lawmakers on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been sealed by the Court of…

Lawyers have said the fate of the sacked lawmakers on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been sealed by the Court of Appeal judgment regardless of how they feel about the decision of the Supreme Court that affirmed the election of the state governor, Caleb Mutfwang.

The Supreme Court had in its judgment reversed the sack of Governor Mutfwang after  the appellate court invalidated the governor’s election on the grounds that PDP failed to conduct proper congresses as ordered by a high court.

Recall that the Court of Appeal had in earlier judgments sacked all PDP lawmakers from the state, including two senators, five House of Representatives members and 16 members of the State Assembly on the same premise.

Daily Trust reports that the Court of Appeal is the final court of adjudication for the national and state houses of assembly elections while for governorship and presidential elections, have the Supreme Court as the final say.

But after the Supreme Court judgment on Friday, which held that the election tribunal and the appellate court had no jurisdiction to determine the validity of the primary election conducted by the PDP and the nomination of Mutfwang as its candidate because they were issues internal to the party, reports emerged that the lawmakers that had been sacked on this premise insisted the apex court judgment had invalidated their sack.

Joe Philip Gwom, a sacked lawmaker from Barkin Ladi LGA, while speaking to journalists said: “I am a victim of the Court of Appeal judgement. But as far as I am concerned, I am going back to the House of Assembly, because the pronouncement of the Supreme Court supersedes that of Court of Appeal. Not only me but all of us from the state assembly and national assembly.”

Another sacked lawmaker, Bala Fwanje from Mangu LGA also said, “To God be the glory, the Supreme Court has given us victory. Our victory has been restored. The judgement means that my seat is not lost.”

However, reacting to this expectation expressed in separate interviews with Daily Trust, some senior lawyers said the fate of the PDP lawmakers had been sealed and cannot benefit from the apex court judgment.

Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) said the sacked PDP lawmakers have been effectively ‘short-changed’. 

“The decisions of the Court of Appeal on their cases have come and gone. There is no room for appeal or review against those decisions.

“In the circumstance, there is nothing for them to do than rue their misfortunes till another opportunity to contest presents itself,” he said.

Similarly, Tawo Eja Tawo (SAN) said there is no way out for the lawmakers as the Court of Appeal is the final court.

He said they can no longer appeal to the Supreme Court as it does not have jurisdiction in their matter.

He said the assertion by the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly that he will not accept the APC lawmakers already returned by the Court of Appeal judgment in place of the PDP lawmakers was an audacious disregard to the orders of the court.

“It is unfortunate but there is nothing they can do about it as the position of the law is clear. I don’t agree with disobedience to court order in congress, but the matter was a pre-election matter. If the Supreme Court had decided the governorship appeal before the Court of Appeal, they (appellate court) would have nothing to do than to abide by that decision,” he added.

Also commenting, Habibu Musa Muhammad, a Plateau-based lawyer said Section 246 of the Constitution makes the Court of Appeal the appellate court of last resort on appeals from the decisions of election petition tribunals in disputes arising from the conduct, outcome and legality of the National Assembly and States House of Assembly elections, which he said means no appeal can arise after the Court of Appeal has decided on the matters.

“It is an important principle of our justice system that decisions of courts apply only to cases before them, and granted that the Court of Appeal is, under the doctrine of judicial precedent, bound by the decision of the Supreme Court but there are two things to consider here: first, the said decision of the Supreme Court on that issue came after the Court of Appeal had delivered its own.

“Second, even if the Supreme Court’s decision came earlier, the Court of Appeal decision shall remain valid not just because the Court of Appeal is the court of last resort in those cases but also because that was the decision of the court rightly or wrongly and the aggrieved parties do not have the opportunity to test it before the highest court of the land.”

Manir Barau, another lawyer also said “Where a decision is made rightly or wrongly, it remains so and no court can correct that particular issue on the ground that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to entertain it and the time to hear the matter has elapsed.”

Sacked lawmakers are deceiving themselves  – APC

Also reacting, the state chapter of the APC has described the call to review the judgement that sacked the PDP lawmaker as deceptive; and called on the sacked lawmakers to wait until the next circle of elections.

The APC’s Publicity Secretary in the state, Sylvanus Namang said, “The PDP should stop heating up the polity. What we want now in the state is unity. The PDP has to accept court judgments in good faith, just like we accepted judgments of the Supreme Court. So, what they are saying is just a waste of time.”


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