Reps To Intervene In Crisis Rocking Plateau Assembly

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Professor of Law, Damilola Olawuyi, recently said the crisis can erode confidence in the judiciary.

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The leadership of the House of Representatives has said it will intervene in the crisis rocking the Plateau State Assembly.

This is sequel to a motion of urgent importance, on the need to ensure the swearing-in of members of the Plateau State Assembly who have not been sworn in.

In a motion by Honourable Idris Wase, he alleged that some members were compelled to sign certain documents containing strong conditions before they are sworn in.

Political upheavals in the state have continued unabated for months, with the Speaker of the House, Gabriel Dewan, recently refusing to swear in the 16 All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) members who were declared winners of the last elections by the Court of Appeal, is unwholesome for the state.

The Assembly had remained inactive due to the speaker’s position, first declaring a two-month recess and later claiming that he had “court processes” over the matter, and therefore, only recognising nine out of the 24 members of the House, whose cases were not a subject of litigation.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Professor of Law, Damilola Olawuyi, recently said the crisis can erode confidence in the judiciary.

“This legal imbroglio is unfortunately another sad reflection of the urgent need for reforms in our judicial system to bring about greater coherence and transparency in the dispensation of justice. The 1999 Constitution makes it clear that the Court of Appeal sits as the final court over appeals arising from national and state Houses of Assembly elections, while petitions from the governorship and presidential elections go all the way to the Supreme Court.

“However, both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have in several recent cases maintained the clear principle that appeals bothering on pre-election matters such as the issue of nomination and sponsorship are outside the remit of an election tribunal and should therefore generally not be entertained as a basis for challenging the outcome of an election. While the Supreme Court maintained consistency and fidelity to this principle in dismissing the petition against Governor Muftwang of Plateau State, it is rather shocking and would appear to be a clear case of judicial malpractice for the Court of Appeal to radically depart from its own long-settled principle.

“There is a clear and urgent need for the National Judicial Council to conduct a comprehensive review and evaluation of the rather bizarre outcome of the Plateau case, and apply far-reaching disciplinary action and sanctions to any justice of the Court of Appeal found wanting either for professional malpractice or incompetence. Without this, the Plateau case can do permanent damage to public trust and confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of the common citizen.

“There is also a need for the NJC and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, to issue clear practice directions to correct the confusing precedent that this case may have unwittingly set. Some concerned analysts have already called for the constitution to be amended to allow all election cases to end at the Supreme Court, but I do not see this as necessary because it will only add to the already heavy caseload of the Supreme Court. Rather, what we need is for the NJC to review the matter and publicly set the record straight on the confusing and incoherent outcome of this particular case,” he was quoted to have said during an interview.