Law News
CJN allays fear over multiple pre-election suits

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has assured Nigerians and the international community that the judiciary would resist any manipulation aimed at compromising the forthcoming polls through pending multiple pre-election suits.

Media aide to the CJN, Mr. Ahuraka Isah, on Thursday quoted the CJN as giving the assurance when a delegation of the European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2015 visited him.

The European envoy was said to have visited in company with the Deputy Chief Observer, Ms Hannah Roberts; and the Legal Analyst, Ms Eirini-Marie Gounari of the European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2015.

There are about 20 pending pre-election suits, among which are some seeking the disqualification of the presidential candidates of the leading political parties – the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress.

Among the suits are some asking the court to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission from using the Permanent Voter Cards and the electronic card reader in the polls already re-scheduled to hold on March 28 and April 11, 2015.

One of the suits also wants the court to postpone the general elections until all eligible voters are issued with their PVCs or alternatively everybody be allowed to use any form of evidence of registration issued to them by INEC.

There are fears that many of the suits were sponsored by politicians with vested interests to truncate the elections.

But the CJN assured his visitors that none of the suits would be used to scuttle the polls.

Isah quoted the CJN as saying, “The judiciary as an independent arbiter and interpreter of law has an immeasurable role to play under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) for the stability of democracy in Nigeria.

“I wish to assure the international community and indeed all Nigerians that the courts are not only ready to carry out these responsibilities, but will do so without been manipulated to compromise the elections even in the face of multiple pre-election matters pending in our various courts at present.

“No actions aimed at interfering with this constitutional duty will be tolerated. Any judicial officer who falls short of this high expectation will not only be severely disciplined by the National Judicial Council, but will have themselves to blame.”

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, and some Justices of the Supreme Court were said to have joined the CJN to receive the election observers.

While giving an update on Election Petition Tribunals, Bulkachuwa said that the 255 chairmen and members of the Election Petitions Tribunal sworn-in by the CJN on February 2, 2015 had since been constituted into 77 panels.

The PCA added that the panel chairmen and members had undergone training sessions and they would be posted to their respective states where they would serve next week.

Bulkachuwa said, “Apart from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal panel, there will be at least two panels per state and one for the Federal Capital Territory, while some will be put on reserve in case there is need to add more in some states. Governorship election will not hold in six states, namely: Kogi, Osun, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Ondo and Edo and therefore there will be no governorship election petition tribunal panels in those states.

“However, we are experiencing challenges in Rivers State where there is no Chief Judge at present to take responsibility of the panel posted to that state. Besides, the Chief Judges of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states have said that they won’t be able to guarantee the safety of the panel members due to security challenges in their respective states and advised that the panels for their states be made to sit elsewhere.”

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