Integrity of judiciary at stake – Minority leader flays Appeal Court over Plateau, Kaduna Reps ruling

The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chinda, has questioned the recent actions of the Nigerian judiciary, alleging that its integrity is at stake.

Chinda’s remarks followed the recent judgments of the Appeal Court which removed opposition lawmakers from Plateau and Kaduna States in the House of Representatives.

The mminority leader claimed the rulings of the Appeal Court eroded public interest and does not portend well for the country’s democracy.

In a statement he signed, Chinda said “we are shocked that the Justices of the Appeal Court delivered judgements that are not only conflicting but negates proven and established legal precedence.

“With due respect to the justices, the grounds in which the Justices reached their unfortunate and regrettable judgments are totally unacceptable, ludicrous, capricious and outrightly unlawful. The obvious illogic which characterised the judgments falls short of our constitutional and electoral jurisprudence.”

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The lawmaker said, despite the well established jurisprudence on pre-election matters, “the justices decided to side-track, neglect, and jettison established precedents clearly and explicitly delivered by the Supreme Court. It is not only sad and painful; but shameful that the justices, in their warped wisdom, gave such patently prejudiced and inconsistent judgements without respect for existing substantive and procedural law.”

He cited instances between the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Vice President Kashim Shettima, where the Supreme Court, in dismissing the appeal, ruled that, “you cannot challenge a political party over structure even if it does not have the structure.”

Also, he noted out that the Supreme Court dismissed the Allied Peoples Mandate’s suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission on the same ground.

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,Chinda recounted how the Appeal Court, in strict adherence to established jurisprudence in October 2023 dismissed a matter by the All Progressives Congress’ candidate for a House of Representatives seat in Borno State, against the Peoples Democratic Party.

He said “Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme in her lucid and clear judgement held that the appropriate place to challenge the nomination, sponsorship and qualification of a candidate is the High Court not Tribunal or Appeal Court or any other Court.

The Minority Leader said, “since there are many pronouncements by the Supreme Court, which is the final court in Nigeria, on pre-election and similar issues, it is binding on all parties. Having laid this very necessary and useful background, one can safely conclude that the actions and decisions of the justices in Plateau and Kaduna States are a travesty and calls to questions the time-tested and serially-proven attributes of the judiciary as an impartial, responsive and transparent body. The conflicting judgements are insensitive, repulsive, insidious, and tantamount to gross abuse of judicial process.”

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While expressing worries over the implications of the conflicting judgements by the appeal court, Chinda said “if left unchecked and promptly addressed, it may have far-reaching impacts on the judiciary and democracy in Nigeria.

“This would discredit, portray and give the judiciary very negative image. The trust and impartiality character of the judiciary would be completely eroded. These anomalies would not only call to question our values as a people and country but may have negative effects on the growth and deepening of democracy.”

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