Crisis Hits Plateau Assembly As Speaker Vows Not To Recognise 16 APC Members

By Damilare Adeleye
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The fate of 16 members-elect of the Plateau State House of Assembly is currently dangling as the Speaker, Gabriel Dewan, has said that he would only recognise eight members of the House.

Dewan, the only member of the Young Peoples Party (YPP), was elected the Speaker in the wake of the sack of 16 PDP lawmakers by the court.

The Appeal Court had sacked 16 members elected under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the premise that the party had no structure as at the time they were nominated as candidates and, therefore, lacked the legitimacy to be sponsored by the party.

The court had asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw their Certificates of Return and issue to the APC members, a directive which the electoral body has obeyed.

However, the last Friday’s judgment of the Supreme Court seems to have triggered a fresh political crisis in the state.

The court had overruled the appellate court by saying that the sack of the 16 PDP members was unjustified.

Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the unanimous judgment of the five-man panel, upheld the appeal filed by Governor Caleb Mutfwang against his sack by the Court of Appeal.

Justice Agim contended that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate have no locus standi to have delved into the internal affairs of another political party.

He regretted that unfortunately some people had suffered from the unjustified judgment of the Appeal Court.

Justice John Okoro, in his own summation said: “My worry is that a lot of people have suffered as a result of this.”

The judgment appeared to have emboldened the Speaker to state that he does not recognise the APC members who benefitted from the judgment.

Dewan speaking to newsmen in Jos said that the pronouncement of the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of the land, had cancelled the earlier position of the lower court, stressing that “as it stands now only eight are recognised as members in the assembly.”

He said that as Speaker that he is a leader for all irrespective of political party as he would carry everybody along in his leadership despite coming from the opposition and a minority party, the YPP.

According to him, the 16 lawmakers who were affirmed by the Court of Appeal would not be recognised for now as apex court was emphatic that the judgment of the Appeal Court was faulty and an abuse of court processes, pointing out that the 16 PDP lawmakers who were earlier sacked had appealed for the determination of the Supreme Court judgment as well as now calling for their judgment to be upturned by the highest court of the land, including that of the National Assembly members.