The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to safeguard the integrity of the judiciary by promptly establishing a judicial panel of inquiry. The purpose is to investigate claims made by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) regarding their influence within the judiciary, particularly at the Appeal and Supreme courts, in handling election cases. The PDP’s statement, signed by its national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, was in response to a viral video featuring APC leader Yusuf Gagdi, a member of the House of Representatives from Plateau State. Gagdi’s statement implied a strategic influence within the judiciary on election cases.
The PDP contends that Gagdi’s remarks heighten suspicions in the public domain that the APC has established a specialized team, including two former governors serving as cabinet ministers and a prominent APC leader from the North East Zone. Allegedly, this team has the mandate to induce certain judicial officers to deliver judgments against the PDP, as evidenced by perceived biased judgments from the Plateau State Election Appeal Court panel. The PDP further claims that Gagdi’s statement supports allegations of a former APC Governor offering $5 million to members of the Plateau State Election Appeal Court panel to secure a biased judgment against Governor Caleb Mutfwang’s electoral victory, contrary to established legal principles.
The statement reads in part: “Hon. Gagdi’s declaration perhaps explains why the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel snatched the victories won by PDP candidates in the National Assembly elections in the state and awarded same to defeated APC candidates in varying, contradictory, and conflicting judgements in appeals with the same subject matter, same facts, same circumstances, and same applicable laws.
“It is therefore not surprising that the current Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel which has been accused of bias with many Nigerians calling for its disbandment, is the only panel dedicated “solely” to all election appeals from Plateau State, contrary to practice.
“The conduct of the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel and the boastings of the APC are eroding integrity, potency, and confidence of Nigerians in the time-tested saying that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.
“The loss of public confidence being generated by this claim has the capacity to push Nigerians to resort to self-help, which is a recipe for anarchy, chaos, and breakdown of law and order in our country.
“The outcome of the appeals decided by the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel is generating serious tension in Plateau State as the citizens are already taking to the streets in protest. Our concern is that the situation is capable of escalating into a full-blown crisis in Plateau and other states of the federation if not immediately addressed.
“Insisting that the judiciary remains the last line of defence for our nation’s democracy and political stability, the PDP demands that the CJN, as the head of the Judiciary, set up a high-powered panel to probe the claims by the APC of having persons in both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court as well as investigate the bribery allegations against the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel.”