THE Jos Division of the Federal High Court yesterday Thursday 25th, January 2024 refused to grant the request of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Plateau State seeking to halt the inauguration of 16 All Progressives Congress (APC) members declared winners by election tribunal as House of Assembly members.

The 16 APC candidates were declared winners by the Plateau State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal,  a verdict that was upheld by the Court of Appeal, the final court for election petitions at that level. The decision of the two courts was based on an intra-party dispute prior to the election held on 18 March 2023.

Justice V.D. Agishi, who presided over the court, held that granting the request would not be appropriate given the unique circumstances of the case.

The court ordered that the defendants be put on notice and adjourned further hearing till 26th February 2024, even as the court ordered all parties to be served with the originating processes and other documents. through subsistent means.

The court also rejected PDP’s plea asking it to prevent the Assembly and the Speaker from acknowledging the Certificates of Return issued to the APC lawmakers by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In the ex parte application, the PDP sought to restrain the Speaker from implementing the Appeal Court judgment that ordered the removal of eight of its members.

Despite Speaker Gabriel Kudangbena’s declaration that he would not recognize the 16 APC members yet, the APC candidates were absent during the first Assembly session after the Yuletide. The eight PDP members were denied entry to the plenary.

Speaker Kudangbena insisted on inaugurating the 16 members, basing his decision on a clear interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment involving Governor Caleb Mutfwang.

He stated that there were currently 32 members claiming the seats, and since they all possessed Certificates of Return, only eight members would be allowed to take their seats. He noted that a court injunction prevented the House from inaugurating the 16 APC members.

While the PDP candidates could not appeal beyond the Court of Appeal following their removal, Mutfwang, whose election was also annulled at both the tribunal and Court of Appeal, succeeded in having the decision overturned by the Supreme Court.

Despite the 16 APC candidates threatening to take their seats as Assembly members in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment, legal experts argued that this was not possible as they were not parties to that particular case. involving the governor.