Election Petitions: Ex-Appeal Court Justice seeks one-time final adjudication - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Election Petitions: Ex-Appeal Court Justice seeks one-time final adjudication

A retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, Professor Mojeed Owoade, has canvassed for the adoption of one-time final adjudication for election petitions in the country so as to arrest the workload of courts, save cost and uplift the standard of determination of election disputes.

As part of structural and procedural reforms to the Constitution and other electoral laws, the professor of law sought termination of election petitions at the tribunal level once they are justiciably adjudicated upon by serving Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Judges of High Courts.

Among others, the former Appeal Court Justice suggested that only serving justices of Supreme Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and High Court judges on the watch of the National Judicial Council (NJC) for discipline when erred should be saddled with the responsibilities of adjudicating in election petition matters.

He spoke at a one-day National Convergence on Citizens’ Led Engagement on Judicial Accountability in Post Election Justice Delivery in Nigeria put together by a Civil Society Organization, the Actionaid.

For Presidential Election Petition, Justice Owoade suggested a 7-man panel that should compromise three serving Justices of the Supreme Court to be supported by two Justices of the Court of Appeal and two High Court Judges.

He canvassed for a panel of 5-member judicial officers for Governorship Election Petitions to include two Supreme Court Justices, two Justices of the Court of Appeal and a High Court Judge.

For the Senate, he proposed three Justices of the Court of Appeal and two High Court Judges to form a panel

As for petitions emanating on House of Representatives election, he canvassed for a panel of two Court of Appeal Justices and three High Court Judges.

In his applauded paper presentation, he said, “I suggest the elimination of all systems of appeals in the adjudication of pre-election and election matters. I suggest a one-time tribunal for all the categories of election without any further appeal to any other court in the hierarchy of courts.

“The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and the President of the Court of Appeal in consultation with three to four serving Chief Judges who are already members of the National Judicial Council (NJC) should be made to appoint members of Election Petition Tribunals.

“My personal suggestion in relation to election petitions is based on the assumption that it is generally agreed that adjudication in election and election related matters should continue to be handled by serving judicial officers, including judges and justices, as the case may be, rather than retired judicial officers.

“The reason for this is that serving judicial officers continue to be under the watchful eye of the National Judicial Council, which exercises supervisory and disciplinary powers over serving judicial officers.

“I consider that it is also generally agreed that the concept of a free and fair election involves fairness and efficiency in election adjudication.

“That in turn entals, but is not limited to, a non- partisan and truly independent judiciary with men of integrity and learning capable of enhancing the rule of law,” he said.

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