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JUST IN: Drama at Court of Appeal As Court Dismisses Sacked PDP Lawmakers Lawyer’s Request To Adjourn The Review of Judgement That Sacked Them, Imposes #8m Fine on each member, Insists That No Payment Of Fine, No Continuation Of Case

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“In the circumstance, this application and all applications filed by Mr Pwul, SAN before us this morning are hereby struck out for lack of diligent prosecution, sum of two million naira shall be paid expressly by Mr Pwul, SAN to each of the four respondents in the applications” Court of Appeal

Mild Drama In Court

The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division was temporarily turned into a theatre today 27th February, 2024 when the 16 sacked Plateau PDP Lawmakers through their counsel, Garba Pwul, SAN approached the court for extension of time to determine the case brought before it by the members of the house of assembly who were removed from office by the same Court in November 2023.

A mild drama ensued when the Court of Appeal constituted a three man panel to look into the application filled by Garba Pwul, SAN seeking for extension of time to enable PDP sacked House of Assembly Honourable Members move motion for review of judgement delivered in November, 2023 considering the fact that Court of Appeal is the final court handling State House of Assembly election matters. More so, election appeal is time bound.

Garba Pwul, SAN wanted to seek for adjournment objecting that the Court of Appeal must set up a five man committee to look into the matter instead of the three man Committee set by Court of Appeal.

Court of Appeal, Abuja during sitting

The respected Senior Advocate of Nigeria, however, mischievously added that it is a constitutional matter that it must be five man committee to handle the issue of extension of time to enable Court of Appeal look into the review of the judgement delivered in November, 2023.

The Court then insisted that Garba Pwul, SAN must support his submission from a constitutional point of view since he said three man panel cannot sit on the matter unless it is five man panel.

For about 10 minutes, Garba Pwul, SAN was unable to make any specific reference by citing any section of the constitution. Garba Pwul, SAN rather insisted later that the Court of Appeal Act made it mandatory that it must be five man committee. The Court still insisted that Pwul SAN should provide the sections of the Court of Appeal Act.

Garba Pwul SAN couldn’t provide the section to address the judges.

The Court then called on Garba Pwul to move his motion for the extension of time since election matters are time bound.

Garba Pwul, SAN sensing the body language of the judges refused to move his application for extension of time. Instead, Garba Pwul insisted that the matter should simply be adjourned.

The Court denied the request of Garba Pwul, SAN for adjournment saying that it was a deliberate ploy to waste the precious time of the Court and delay the determination of the review of the judgement.

Court Ruling Today:

Court of Appeal “Mr Pwul, SAN said he do not have it (constitutional reference), it is therefore eminent that Mr Pwul, SAN is not ready in this court. His unwillingness to move his application shows that he is not ready or willing to present same. This is not the way law should be practiced”.

The Court of Appeal continued “In the circumstance, this application and all applications filed by Mr Pwul, SAN before us this morning are hereby struck out for lack of diligent prosecution, sum of two million naira shall be paid expressly by Mr Pwul, SAN to each of the four respondents in the applications”.

“And until the said costs are paid, no processes filed by the applicant in the said application shall be accepted in any registry of this court (court of appeal). For the avoidance of any doubt, and as stated by Mr Pwul, SAN and agreed to by Mr Pwajok, this affects all the applications” concluded the court  

After the long drama which lasted over an hour, the Court wrote it ruling. The ruling dismissed request for adjournment of the matter by Pwul. The ruling also awarded fine of eight million on each case. The Court of Appeal insisted that Garba Pwul must pay the fine before he will be allowed to file any process on this matter in any registry of Court of Appeal.

By this implication, Garba Pwul SAN cannot move forward on this matter until Pwul pays One hundred and twenty eight million naira.

Brief History of the Case

The Court of Appeal had on the 24th November, 2023, nullified the election of all the 16 members of the Plateau State House of Assembly, elected under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and declared the first runner ups be issued Certificate of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission for lack of structure.

The Court of Appeal also removed His Excellency, Barr Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang as the elected governor of Plateau State and ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to the All Progressives Congress APC Gubernatorial Candidate in the 2023 general elections, Dr Nentawe Yilwatda Goshwe.

However, Barr Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang exercised his right of appeals to the Supreme Court and the Apex Court in it’s wisdom overturned the judgement of the Court of Appeal thereby returning him as the duly elected governor.

The lawmakers, however are status barred from approaching the Supreme Court and consequently have their victories overturned

Speaker Dewan’s position

It will recalled that the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Gabriel Dewan declared that he recognizes only 7 members of the house immediately after the Supreme Court declared Governor Caleb Mutfwang as Governor of Plateau State on 12th January, 2023 when the 16 PDP lawmakers and 16 members elect stormed the house to be recognized as members.

The Speaker took the decision to “avoid breakdown of law and order, and for being impartial”. Addressing pressmen, Rt Hon Dewan unequivocally stated that he’ll only recognize the 16 members elect after the court must have interpreted the judgement of the Appeal Court.

Gov. Mutfwang’s Smart Political Move

In a smart move, perceived as “wetting the ground” ahead of any possible outcome of the judgement, the intelligent governor who’s a lawyer by profession pacified the sacked lawmakers with appointments as Constituency Liaison Officers.

This according to many political analysts is a strategic management plan by the governor to pave way for the inauguration of the members elect without resistance from the PDP lawmakers who are aggrieved for what they feel was miscarriage of justice should their plea for review be denied

Has the case been determined?

The Court of Appeal is yet to determine the case as erroneously being circulated in the media (www.pointblank.com.ng is not included). The Court only dismissed the application of PDP Lawmakers counselor for adjournment and extension of time. The Court viewed this as a deliberate strategy by Pwul to keep the case at the Court of Appeal

Without the payment of the sum of One hundred and twenty eight million naira ordered by the Court, Pwul is barred from approaching the court on the same issue meaning that the status quo (judgment of the Court of Appeals sacking the PDP Lawmakers stands)

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