The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), on Sunday, traded words following the sacking of Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State by the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.
In a judgement delivered on Sunday, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Elfreida Williams-Dawodu ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to PDP’s Mutfwang and issue a fresh one to Nentawe Goshwe of the APC, whom the court declared as the valid winner of the March 18 governorship election.
Mutfwang was the third opposition governor to be sacked by the Court of Appeal within three days.
Last Thursday, the appellate court nullified the election of another PDP Governor, Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State, declaring that the governorship election in the state was inconclusive.
The following day, the same court invalidated the election of the Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Worried by the serial losses suffered by their governors and lawmakers at the courts, the PDP Deputy Legal Adviser, Okechukwu Osuoha, who spoke woth newsmen on Sunday, declared that the recent court judgments were not in tandem with the law.
Osuoha, who said he did not have a copy of the judgement yet, explained that there were three grounds for the election petition matter.
“One is that when somebody is claiming that he won an election with the most number of valid votes, the person will have to prove it. The second is malpractice; the person who alleged would have to prove it.
“Then qualification; whether the person was qualified or not. So these are the grounds. It is in the public domain that Nigerians and PDP are not too comfortable with judgement from the courts.
“In the ruling party, APC, impunity is so much. They try to influence some of these institutions to force their party on Nigerians. That is the ugly side of it.
“Most of the recent judgements are not really in tandem with the law. Most times the justices come up with technicalities.
“The court now portrays itself as a court of technicalities and not a court of justice and it is not too palatable for our system, our country, and democracy,” he said.
The lawyer noted that there is still a window for the party and Mutfwang to appeal the judgement.
“The people hold the judiciary in high esteem so that confidence should not be eroded.
“Nigeria is suffering today because most of our institutions are not strong. I believe that our legal system, our Court should stand out. The court should be impartial in their decisions,” Osuoha added.
Also, PDP Deputy National Youth Leader, Timothy Osadolor, alleged that “the highest bidders were getting favourable rulings.’’
“The clock is ticking and the thin patience of our people is running out. Our judges should remember the heroes past or become today’s heroes by excusing themselves from money-tainted judgements and pronouncements.
“Some people want to force APC on Nigerians, but we will resist it,” Osadolor said.
But the APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, in a statement, dismissed the allegations that the judiciary was induced by his party.
Ibrahim, posited that it was people who did not understand how the judicial process works that were accusing both the APC and the Presidency of trying to turn Nigeria into a one-party state.
“Nobody is turning Nigeria into a one-party state. These are some of the baseless allegations coming from people who don’t know how the system works. The judiciary is independent.
“There is just no way any arm or the executive can intimidate or make the judiciary act against its own wish. People are not applying their logic sensibly.
“There are areas where the ruling party has lost and we have not castigated, lambasted or cast aspersion on the judiciary. We know the judiciary may have their reason to take the decision against us.
“That is not to say people should think it is the executive that is manipulating the judiciary every time we win.
“People should learn to be good sportsmen. Where you lose today, you may win tomorrow. We should have confidence in the system, ourselves and democracy.
“As long as we continue to be selective in our assessment of the system, we will always get it wrong. We should allow the judiciary to work with the psyche of independence and continue to encourage the system to strengthen democracy. Let us not be judgmentally selective,” he said.