Photo: Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, President, Court of Appeal.
PDP urges Appeal Court President to disband Plateau Election Panel
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has called on the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, to disband the Plateau State Election Appeal Panel handling the state’s election cases and reconstitute a fresh one.
According to the party, the actions of the Panel sitting in Abuja are capable of undermining democracy and the express Will of the people of Plateau State in the 2023 National Assembly Elections.
Addressing a press conference, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said the people of Plateau were unsettled by allegations in the public domain that the Appeal Court Panel has deliberately been compromised to undermine the Will of the people in the varying judgments on same election context and circumstances.
Ologunagba said: “What can explain the brazen departure by the Appeal Court Panel from the judicial practice, where cases with similar facts and applicable laws, especially before the same Court, at the same material time, result in different outcomes?
“Curiously, the Panel in the most concerning pattern reached different conclusions with respect to election appeals with the same subject matter, same facts, same circumstances, and same applicable laws in bias judgments clearly skewed against the PDP in favor of the APC.
“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while where the APC came second, it ordered that the Certificate of Return issued to the victorious PDP candidate be withdrawn and a new Certificate of Return be issued to the APC candidate, who came second in the election.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 Court of Appeal No. CA/J/EP/PL/SEN/12/2023 delivered on
Sunday 22nd October 2023, curiously annulled PDP’s victory and ordered INEC to conduct a rerun election among all the Parties.”
He further stated that: “In the case of Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency won by Hon. Musa Agah of the PDP, where the APC candidate also came third, the Panel in its judgment in Court of Appeal No. CA/J/EP/PL/HR/14/2023 delivered on Friday 27th October, 2023 annulled the victory of the PDP and ordered a rerun but “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 Dafaan of the APC as runner-up, the Appeal Court Justices in Court of Appeal No. CA/J/EP/PL/HR/18/2023 annulled the victory of the PDP candidate, declared the APC candidate as the 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.”
Ologunagba further said that the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel judgments have heightened tension in the state, noting that “conflicting verdicts by the same Panel of Justices has the consequence to gravely impugn on the integrity of the Appeal Court and the Institution of the Judiciary, even as it further appears to lend credence to allegations of inducement by the APC.”
He said the situation presents pertinent issues, which must be immediately addressed, especially as the people of Plateau State have already lost confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Panel as presently constituted.
The PDP spokesman listed some demands of the party to the president of the court of appeal, Monica Mensem-Dongban as follows:
1.That the President of the Court of Appeal immediately disbands the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel.
2.That a new Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel be constituted to hear the remaining Appeals as the current panel has shown manifest bias to unduly favour the APC candidates. The continued retention of the present Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel will be construed by the people of Plateau State as an act of insensitivity and injustice.
3.That the manifestly biased and inconsistent judgments of the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel already delivered in the Appeals be subjected to judicial review.
He disclosed that the PDP has already instructed its lawyers to take necessary steps to petition the National Judicial Council, NJC, over the reported conduct of the Panel.
Ologunagba also charged all PDP members, critical stakeholders, supporters and the people of Plateau State to remain calm but be alert, especially in their determination to use every means within the ambit of the law to protect and defend their Will as expressed at the elections.