The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, has criticised judges of the Appeal Court over their recent judgements sacking opposition lawmakers in Plateau and Kaduna States.
Recall that the appellate court sitting in Abuja had on November 7, in a unanimous decision by the three-member panel chaired by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, affirmed the nullification of the election of a Senator and three members of the House of Representatives in Plateau State elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Chinda who represents Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State on the platform of the PDP, in a statement on Thursday night said recent decisions by Justices of the Appeal Court leave much to be desired.
According to Chinda, the development casts a huge doubt on the integrity and impartiality of the judicial arm of government.
“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 they reached their unfortunate judgments are totally unacceptable, ludicrous, capricious and outrightly unlawful. The obvious illogic which characterised the judgements fall short of our constitutional and electoral jurisprudence.
“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 said.
The lawmaker recalled that in May 2023, in PDP versus Kashim Shettima, 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, the Supreme Court dismissed Allied Peoples Mandate’s suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission on the same grounds. Similarly, in October 2023, the Appeal Court, in strict adherence to established jurisprudence, dismissed a matter by the All Progressives Congress candidate for a House of Representatives seat in Borno State against the Peoples Democratic Party. 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 the tribunal or Appeal Court or any other Court,” the law maker said.
Continuing, 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 essential and useful background, one can safely conclude that the actions and decisions of the justices in Plateau and Kaduna States are a travesty, and call to question 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 the judicial process.
“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 a very negative image. The trust and impartial 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.”