It was all a handful of anxiety in Plateau State as armed police operatives thwarted the proposed plan by 16 sacked members of the State House of Assembly from gaining access into the State House of Assembly complex with teargas on Tuesday. The 16 lawmakers, members of the Peoples Democratic Party who were sacked by
It was all a handful of anxiety in Plateau State as armed police operatives thwarted the proposed plan by 16 sacked members of the State House of Assembly from gaining access into the State House of Assembly complex with teargas on Tuesday.
The 16 lawmakers, members of the Peoples Democratic Party who were sacked by the court of appeal in November had threatened, on Monday, to ignore the court judgement to visit the State House of Assembly to resume their legislative duties.
Led by Ishaku Maren, the former majority leader, the impeached lawmakers’ arrival to Rayfield the premises of the old government house with their supporters was met with the heavy presence of the police who prevented them from gaining access to the Chambers, leading to the use of teargas on the impeached honourable members.
However, the other lawmakers who were not impeached by the court were given access to chambers to conduct their legislative duties without restraints by the police and other security operatives.
It would be recalled that, in November, 2023, the court of appeal sitting in Abuja sacked the 16 PDP members of the Plateau State House of Assembly and the state Governor, Caleb Mutfwang following an appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, in the March 18th governorship election, Nentawe Yilwatda and his other aggrieved candidates for the state house of assembly.
According to the appellate court, Governor Mutfwang and the affected lawmakers were not validly sponsored by the PDP for the election holding that the party violated the court order that a valid congress be conducted in the 17 local government areas of that state, by conducting congress in only five local government areas of the state, and as such is a nullity.
The court also ruled that PDP failed to comply with a High Court order which had directed it to conduct a valid party congress prior to its sponsorship of the governorship and other candidates.
However Governor Mutfwang approached the Supreme Court to seek redress to the ruling of the lower court, which later ruled in his favour stating that that the position of the appeal court was wrong on the ground that it was a pre-election matter and should not hold any ground.
But the narrative was different for the affected lawmakers who could not proceed to the Supreme Court to appeal their case the Nigerian Constitution limits appeal in legislative matters to the Court of Appeal. Only governorship and presidential petition cases can get to the apex court.
Speaking on the development, the speaker of the house, Gabriel Dewan stated that as long as there is a standing ruling from the court, they as lawmakers have to abide by the court ruling.
He further stated that they have handed the issue to the law interpreters to explain the letters of the law in due time. “I’m not a law interpreter. For now, we are lawmakers but I’m in receipt of a court process that regards the issue. At the moment, we have 16 vacancies at the state House of Assembly and there are court processes over this. As I’m talking to you, we have 32 members claiming the 16 vacancies in the Assembly.
“And like I said, we are lawmakers and not law interpreters. So, we allow the institution saddled with the responsibility of interpretation to interpret the law. So in due course, we will feed the public with the next line of action but for now, we have only eight House of Assembly members until the determination of the court process”, he said.