HURIWA Condemns APC ‘s Attack on Plateau Governor over State legislature

HURIWA Condemns APC ‘s Attack on Plateau Governor over State legislature

…Says is baseless and intellectually porous

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has expressed shock and disappointment over the National working Committee of All Progressives Congress (APC) attack against governor Caleb Mutswang for non-swearing in of 16 lawmakers of the APC made law makers by the ruling of the appeal court.  

HURIWA in a statement by its national coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said’’ it finds it ludicrous that a party that controls the central government is totally bereft of any idea about the well entrenched principles of checks and balances or what is commonly called separation of powers just as the Rights group said if the All Progressives Congress’s leaders can be this intellectually porous about the sanctity of the principles of separation of powers, then our democracy is endangered.’’

 The right group urged the National Chairman of the APC Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje to quickly organise training courses for the members of the National working Committee on the basic knowledge about separation of powers.

The group backed the 16 PDP elected Plateau State house of Assembly members whose elections were over-turned erroneously by the court of Appeal based on pre-election matter, to seek for a review of the injustice meted out to them by the Appeal Court since those decisions were against extant judgments of the supreme court of Nigeria.

HURIWA expressed ‘’conviction that unless the Appellate court or the court above which is the Supreme Court of Nigeria finds ways and means of righting the constitutional errors of the court of Appeal on the validity of the elections of the 16 original members of the PDP produced during the 2023 General election, it would mean that Plateau state’s House of Assembly would be largely dominated by impostors because their victory is built on faulty legal grounds which must be reviewed and redressed. ‘’

HURIWA’S position, according the media Statement, is grounded on the fact that as it relates to the invalidation of the election of the governor  of Plateau State, the apex court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal Abuja which sacked Governor Caleb Mutfwang from office based on pre-election matter which the supreme court quashed and had done same on several earlier judgments of the nation’s highest court which the Appeal Court panel that handled the Plateau State election petition by APC House of Assembly contestants, wrongfully invalidated the election of the 16 PDP law makers on the same excuse of pre-election matter.

The governor, who contested the March 18, 2023 governorship election and won on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had, in his appeal, asked the apex court to set aside the November 19, 2023 judgment of the appellate court which nullified his election on the grounds of non-qualification.

In a judgment prepared and delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the Supreme Court held that Mutfwang was duly nominated as the governorship candidate of the PDP and that he was sponsored for the Plateau State governorship election by the party, which forwarded his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as its candidate.

Justice Agim held in the unanimous judgment that the petitioners at the lower tribunal are not members of the PDP and as such, they have no legal right to question the candidature of the party.

He held that the issue of candidature of a party is purely an internal affair of a party and since the respondents have no legal right to institute the action, the Plateau State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain the action.

The court held that the order of the Plateau State High Court has nothing to do with the exercise of the power of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party to nominate its candidate.

“For these reasons, this appeal is allowed, the judgment of the Court of Appeal is set aside,” the court held and restored the judgment of the trial tribunal which had earlier upheld Mutfwang’s election.

The apex court also reaffirmed the return and INEC’s declaration of Mutfwang as the duly elected governor of Plateau State.

Surprisingly, HURIWA said the National Working Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress on celebrated her ignorance of the constitutional norm of separation  if powers when it warned Plateau State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang and the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Gabriel Dewan, to immediately swear in the 16 elected lawmakers of the APC or be prepared to face the consequences of ignoring a court verdict.

The ruling party said it is running out of patience and will no longer allow the governor and the Speaker to continue the unlawful act, which it claimed is at variance with the final ruling of the appeal court.

Addressing newsmen after the weekly meeting of the NWC, the National Vice Chairman of the APC (South West), Isaac Kekemeke, said the party will ensure the enforcement of the decision of the Court of Appeal, being the last court for the election.

He said, “It is sad that the governor of Plateau who is enjoying his office by the constitution of this country in an election will want to deny 16 members of the fruits of their electoral work and to deny our party the success that they won for the people.  This is a disgrace to democracy and its unacceptable behaviour.

“The National Working Committee expresses its outrage and displeasure over this continued illegality and this unacceptable arbitrage by the Governor of Plateau State, the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly and by the PDP in Plateau State.”

Continuing, Kekemeke stated that the ruling party will no longer allow the ‘legislative rascality’ of the Speaker to go unchallenged, stressing with an air of finality that “enough is enough”.

He therefore called on the Attorney General of the Federation, the Inspection General of Police and all other law enforcement agencies to enforce the final decision of the Court of Appeal, being the last court concerning this election.

He added, “The last court is the Court of Appeal that has spoken and spoken again and yet PDP, the governor of Plateau and the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly shamelessly continue to disobey the law of the land.

“The patience of the APC is running out. But because the APC is a peaceful party. It is calling on the law enforcement agencies to do the needful now and not tomorrow.”

HURIWA however faulted the criticism and warning extended to the Plateau State governor when the governor is not a law maker in Plateau State and is the head of another branch of government which is the executive arm.

“We wish to borrow from Chief Babalola (San) concerning the principle of law is that one cannot give that which he does not have. This principle is derived from the latin maxim – nemo dat non habet. It is upon this threshold that modern state constitutions acknowledge and embody the doctrine of separation of powers in the delineation of governmental powers to institutions and functionaries of government in such a manner that each circuit of governmental powers namely, legislative, executive and judiciary are administered by separate and distinct individuals.”

“Chief Afe Babalola(SAN) further stated that the Legislative Arm of government is empowered to make, amend or even repeal laws. The Executive Arm of government is empowered to execute the constitution (laws), formulate policies and maintain law and order.Judicial powers of government are vested in court of law duly established or recognized by the constitution”.

HURIWA is therefore calling on the APC to train their leaders to understand the principles of separation of powers even as the Rights group said there was no reason why APC is unwilling to allow the 16 original law makers of the PDP whose lawful elections were annulled wrongfully by the court of Appeal to exhaust their legal right to seek for review of the injustice since there are abundance of evidence that a plethora of Supreme Court judgments were breached by the court of Appeal panel that unseated them illegally.

Press statement dated on March 12th  2024.

By Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko;


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