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Daniel Bwala: 2023 Elections Have Brought About Nigeria’s Worst Court Judgements in Recent Years 

“This case of Plateau State… has more to do with the sanctity and integrity of the Supreme Court itself.”

Nigerian lawyer and member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Daniel Bwala, has said that the electoral tribunals of the 2023 Presidential and Gubernatorial elections led to the most inconsistent and worst judgements that the courts have delivered in years.

Bwala said this in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Monday where he addressed the sack of the Plateau State governor, the PDP’s Caleb Muftwang, by the Appeal Court in Jos.

The lawyer said, “In 2023 elections, we have had the worst judgement of courts. We have not had so much of conflicting decisions by one tier of government, because if you look at the election tribunal this year, you will notice that there were inconsistencies in one or two tribunal cases at the trial level, and probably at the Supreme Court, one or two complaints, but at the Court of Appeal is where almost all of these conflicting judgements have so far been experienced.”

Bwala stated that the court of Appeal is one court, so the court in Abuja can be relied on as the same court in Lagos, and as such, one will expect the court to be able to keep abreast of its judgements and keep consistent and constant judgements.

Explaining the ordeal in Plateau, he said, “The judgement by the court of Appeal in Plateau State that removed the governor, the appellate court dealt into the merit of a pre-election matter, and they said it also qualified as a pre-election and main election, and they delivered the judgement. The same court of Appeal in Ebonyi state, the case of pre-election was canvassed. The court of Appeal in Ebonyi said it’s a pre-election matter, we do not delve into pre-election.”

He also said that the decision taken in Ebonyi state was also taken in Benue state, as the Appeal Court refused to delve into pre-election matters, as he revealed that in the case of the 2023 elections, the Supreme Court had made it clear that opposition members of a political party are not allowed to bring up a case of pre-election matters of other political parties to the courts.

Bwala then said that several retired justices have always, in their judgements, classified the decisions by lower courts that did not follow the judgement of the Supreme Court as “Judicial Rascality,” saying that they are embarking on their own frolics contrary to the constitution that says the judgement of the Supreme Court binds all other courts together.

With respect to the reform, he said, “I have no doubt in my mind that the Court of Appeal decision in Jos, when it goes to the Supreme Court, that like the way, when we say ‘All eyes are on the judiciary,’ the people seem to think that you’re blackballing the judiciary. No, when you say ‘all eyes are on the judiciary,’ you’re saying our hope now lies on how they will interpret.

“So, this case of Plateau State, when it goes to the Supreme Court, it will be a case of the Supreme Court vs the court of appeal. It has more to do with the sanctity and integrity of that Supreme Court itself, because Supreme Court will have to determine whether that judgement they delivered in Presidential election tribunal is to be carried out by subordinate courts in Nigeria. Because they made it clear that a decision by the final court is called a settled law. 

“Once a law is not determined by the final court, it is not a settled law. But once it is determined by a final court, it is cast on stone. So, the Supreme Court will have to determine whether the Appeal court is above it, or it is above the Court of Appeal.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi