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#JusticeForPlateau: Selective justice, an invitation to anarchy

The selective justice being delivered on electoral matters involving Plateau State federal lawmakers by the Court of Appeal is an open invitation to anarchy and a further attempt to truncate the fragile peace in the state.

This was displayed by the anger of the people who on Wednesday, trooped out in their thousands to protest the injustice being unleashed on the mandate of the people who had weathered the storm to vote for candidates of their choice.

But for the maturity displayed by the protesters, the state could have been plunged into another field of bloodshed and wanton destruction of property.

The anger seems to be welling up on the Plateau over recent judicial pronouncements in respect of the last elections where the will of the people are truncated by the caprice of the Appeal Court on absurd and laughable ‘technicality’ of structure.

Initial successes and victories have been eroded due to some inconsistent, unconventional and controversial judicial interventions which many see as a deliberate attempt to rob the people of their mandate.

The annulments of the elections are contrary to the ruling of Justice Haruna Tsammani of the Presidential Petition Election Tribunal in Allied People’s Movement’s (APM) petition challenging the qualification of Vice President Kashim Shettima.

While delivering judgement Justice Tsamani had said:

“The issue of qualification or disqualification is a pre-election matter and must be determined before the conduct of the election.”

Other than what the constitution and Electoral Act 2023 say on the issue of pre-election matter which have been flagrantly abused at the Appeal Court, the case of Plateau State might not be able to establish what other issues informed the judges’ decisions.

Section 285 (14) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act 2022 in reference to pre-election matters, clearly notes the word “aspirant” which borders on a party’s internal mechanism, and not “candidate” which involves other parties, and the suit that could be filed in this instance (if any) is at the Federal High Court and not a tribunal or Appeal Court. But in Plateau State, most of the examples in point are pre-election matters and the vexatious matrer of the PDP not having a ‘structure”.

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 the Court of Appeal 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 wisdom, 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 annulled the victory of the PDP candidate, and declared Dafwan 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 Court of Appeal deliberately chose not to look at the evidence of the PDP before the tribunal and did not deliver the judgements based on the law and the facts, as the law, as it is, are quite different from the position of the Court of Appeal.

So the big question is: why are the Plateau cases different? Why the conflicting rulings from the Appeal Court? Is this not the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob playing out here?

It seems the powers that be are bent on using willful surrogates to target and isolate Plateau for a deliberate judicial rascality, insurgency, harassments and oppression, just to provoke the natives into fighting each other.

But all we seek is Justice for Plateau.

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