A group of approximately 500 lawyers gathered at the Court of Appeal in Abuja to express their strong disapproval of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) alleged unwarranted attack on the integrity of the Nigerian judiciary.
Led by Sylvanus Okpe, Convener of the Lawyers of Conscience group, the lawyers denounced what they referred to as a “campaign of calumny” against the justices of the Court of Appeal, particularly in relation to the recent judgment in Plateau State.
Speaking to the media, Okpe emphasized the group’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria. He urged the justices to consider the impact of the PDP’s actions on the reputation and integrity of the court.
While acknowledging that the Court of Appeal had delivered a sound judgment in accordance with the law, Okpe condemned the PDP’s criticisms, viewing them as an attempt to mock and undermine the judiciary.
Okpe further alleged that the PDP had violated a court order in a specific suit, suggesting that such a breach could potentially render the elections of PDP candidates in the National Assembly null and void. He drew a parallel with the Supreme Court’s nullification of APC candidates’ elections in Zamfara State in 2019.
Accusing the PDP of sacrificing facts for their own interests, Okpe claimed that the party was engaged in a sustained campaign to discredit the impartiality of the judiciary.
The lawyers called on the justices to uphold the sanctity of the appellate court and reject the PDP’s position regarding the judgment that removed party members from the National Assembly due to an alleged lack of party structure. They emphasized the importance of an independent, strong, respected, and respectable judiciary for the fair administration of justice in a democratic state.
Okpe also highlighted the significance of adhering to court orders, asserting that contempt of court undermines the authority and dignity of the judiciary. He urged the court to reject the PDP’s stance on the Plateau State judgment unless an appeal is filed against the existing court order regarding the conduct of fresh ward congress for the PDP in the state.