Atiku appeal: Reps PDP Caucus alleges plot to influence CJN

• says CJN should follow seniority in selection of panel of justices

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives, on Thursday, raised the alarm over the alleged plot  by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to influence the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko in the selection of justices to hear the presidential election appeal at the Supreme Court by the Presidential Candidate of the PDP in the last elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

In a statement jointly signed by the caucus leader, Hon Kingsley Chinda, deputy caucus leader, Hon Chukwuma Onyema, caucus whip, Hon Umar Barde and deputy caucus whip, Hon Muraina Ajibola, the caucus declared that throughout the 16 years of PDP’s rule, it never at any time dictated the selection of panel members to the Chief Justices.

Consequently, the caucus insisted that selection of justices to hear the pending appeal filed by the PDP Presidential Candidate must be in the order of seniority in line with the tradition of the Apex Court in the interest of justice.

Access to the Caucus, “we wish to state that selection of justices to hear the appeal of our great party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar must be in accordance with the conventional practice of admitting only of the selection of the first-seven most senior justices of the Supreme Court: CJN Ibrahim Tanko, Justice Rhodes-Vivour, Justice Mary Odili, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta,Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Musa Muhammad and Justice Kumai Akaahs.

” The practice of selecting justices to hear the appeal is expected to precede the hearing, going by age-long convention. What isn’t conventional is the present attempt to influence Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko, going by reports in the media, to subvert the age-long and time-tested practice, precedent and convention of selecting the most senior justices of the Supreme Court to hear the presidential election appeal.

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” Chief justices of Nigeria through time have never in the selection of the Supreme Court’s election petition appeal panel surrendered to the phoney dictates of the ruling parties. We are proud to state here that never in our great party’s time in power, did it or its personages, dictate selection of panel members to chief justices- never.

“Selecting the Supreme Court panel isn’t about witch-pricking- picking justices who suck blood out of justice- isn’t about going outside the order of seniority to select justices, witch-prickers, without independent jurisprudential thoughts and whose singular attribute for selection is that they demonstrate permanent dislike for justice and passion for doing the bidding of power.”

The Caucus submitted that “selection shorn off pressure and influence of government and the present ruling party, is about demonstrating and holding firm to the constitutional powers of the Supreme Court to conduct it’s own affairs and not succumb to pervasive power and corrosive external influences.

” To sidestep precedents and convention is to provide legitimacy to the ruling party whose stock-in-trade is ridiculing the judiciary. Chief Justice Tanko must stick to precedents and conventions to preserve the integrity of the courts as the last hope of the common man and of the citizens of our great country.”

The caucus noted that “in 2008, when President Buhari, defeated by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, appealed the decision of the presidential election petition tribunal, the then CJN, Legbo Kutigi, empanelled Justices Katsina-Alu, Aloma Muktar, Dahiru Musdaphar, Walter Onnoghen and Niki Tobi to hear the appeal that year

“He was never dictated to, nor was any attempt made by our great party to influence CJN, Justice Legbo Kutigi, who stuck to a conventional practice that consistently secured the seal of approval of past chief justices: CJN Fatai Williams, 1079, CJN George Sowewimo, 1983, and CJN Muhammad Uwais, 2003,” they stated.

The caucus, however, said “that on Monday,14th October 2019 through its director of press and information, Dr Festus Akande, the Supreme Court refuted this intent and reassured the Nigerian public that it is out to ‘serve the interest of the generality of the Nigerian masses and not select individuals or groups’, we, therefore, pray and hope that the Supreme Court does not allow itself to fall into this gobble trap.”

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