By Abiodun OBA
The impartiality of the judiciary and its role in ensuring fair and just elections in Nigeria in now very much in doubt.
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, stated that recent events in Plateau have cast ‘a shadow of doubt’ and suspicion over the integrity of the state’s judiciary.
Onwubiko expressed deep concern over what he alleged to be a coordinated effort to issue contradictory judgments, particularly favouring the All Progressives Congress, APC, at the expense of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
“These concerns go beyond post-election matters and extend to pre-election cases, which, according to established legal precedent, should not be revisited at the appellate level.
“In some instances where the APC came in second, PDP candidates were removed, and the certificate of return was given to the APC, while in other cases where the APC came in third or lower, the courts ordered a rerun.
“HURIWA considers this inconsistency alarming and believes it raises suspicions of bias.
“Specifically, in the case of Plateau North Senatorial District won by Sen. Simon Mwadkwon of the PDP and the APC candidate coming in third, the Panel, in its judgment in Court of Appeal No. CA/J/EP/PL/SEN/12/2023 delivered on Sunday, October, 2023, curiously annulled the PDP’s victory and ordered INEC to conduct a rerun election among all the parties.
“In the case of Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency won by Hon. Musa Agar of the PDP and where the APC candidate also came in third, the Panel, in its judgment in Court of Appeal No. CA/J/EP/PL/HR/14/2023 delivered on Friday, October 2023, annulled the victory of the PDP and ordered a rerun 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 Dafwan 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candidate as the outright winner, and ordered that the Certificate of Return issued to the victorious PDP candidate be withdrawn and a fresh Certificate of Return issued to the APC candidate.”
In response to these developments, HURIWA called for an immediate halt to the perceived systematic use of the judiciary to favour the APC in Plateau State.
HURIWA underscored the importance of restoring public confidence by adhering to the principles of fairness, justice, and impartiality within the judiciary.
The group also stressed the significance of educating the public about the role and functioning of the judiciary to foster a better understanding of its importance in Nigeria’s democracy.
In conclusion, HURIWA reaffirmed its commitment to the rule of law, democracy, and justice.
The organization pledged to monitor developments in Plateau State and across the nation to ensure that the rights of the people are upheld.
HURIWA called on all stakeholders, including the judiciary, political parties, and the public, to work together to protect and uphold the values that define Nigeria as a nation.