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Reps to intervene in Plateau assembly crisis

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The House of Representatives has decided to step in to resolve the crisis affecting the Plateau State Assembly.

This move follows a motion of urgent importance regarding the need to swear in members of the Plateau State Assembly who have not yet been sworn in.

Honourable Idris Wase raised the motion, alleging that some members were forced to sign certain documents with strong conditions before being sworn in.

The political unrest in the state has been ongoing for months, with Speaker Gabriel Dewan refusing to swear in the 16 All Progressives Congress and Labour Party members who were declared winners of the last elections by the Court of Appeal.

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This has left the Assembly inactive, as the Speaker first declared a two-month recess and later cited “court processes” over the matter, recognizing only nine out of the 24 House members whose cases were not under litigation.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Professor of Law, Damilola Olawuyi, commented on the situation, expressing concern that the crisis could undermine confidence in the judiciary.

“This legal imbroglio is unfortunately another sad reflection of the urgent need for reforms in our judicial system to bring about greater coherence and transparency in the dispensation of justice,” he said.

He explained that the 1999 Constitution states that the Court of Appeal is the final court for appeals from national and state Houses of Assembly elections, while governorship and presidential election petitions go to the Supreme Court.

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He criticized the Court of Appeal for departing from its principle of not entertaining pre-election matters, saying, “It is rather shocking and would appear to be a clear case of judicial malpractice for the Court of Appeal to radically depart from its own long-settled principle.”

Olawuyi called for the National Judicial Council to review the outcome of the Plateau case and apply disciplinary actions if necessary.

“There is a clear and urgent need for the National Judicial Council to conduct a comprehensive review and evaluation of the rather bizarre outcome of the Plateau case, and apply far-reaching disciplinary action and sanctions to any justice of the Court of Appeal found wanting either for professional malpractice or incompetence,” he stated.

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He also suggested that the NJC and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, issue clear practice directions to correct the confusion created by this case.

Olawuyi emphasized the importance of maintaining public trust in the judiciary, saying, “Without this, the Plateau case can do permanent damage to public trust and confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of the common citizen.”

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