Law News
CJN warns judges against scuttling 2015 polls

It was learnt that apart from publicly warning judges against any ruling capable of re-enacting the June 12, 1993 presidential election debacle, the CJN is also making moves to ensure judges do not put the nation’s democracy at undue risk through their pronouncements.

In one of such recent outing by Justice Mohammed, while inaugurating 242 election petitions tribunal judges that are to handle disputes emanating from the 2015 elections, said, “Let me use this opportunity to sound a note of warning to all judicial officers. Do not allow any political party or politician to compromise your integrity or your future. We must never again be used as tools to truncate our nation’s democracy.”

Our correspondent learnt that the CJN had not stopped at just making public comments but had been following it up with unofficial interactions with particularly the various heads of the various courts handling the highly sensitive election-related cases.

It was learnt that the CJN had handed down a warning to the affected heads of the various courts to be ready to take responsibility for any decisions of the judges under them whose decision could mar the electoral process.

A source close to a Chief Judge, said, “Oga (the CJ) has told his judges to be careful in the handling of some of the cases because the CJN is really interested in ensuring that the election holds smoothly.

“As things are now, if any awful thing happens, the head of court and the particular judge linked to it, will have to take responsibility. So, care is also being taken about who to assign some of these cases to by the CJ.”

The Federal High Court in Abuja plays host to many of the sensitive political cases.

There are, at least, four suits challenging the use of card readers and exclusive use of the Permanent Voter Cards for the conduct of the forthcoming polls.

The plaintiffs in one of the suits filed before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja on January 26, 2015, are asking for, among other prayers, the postponement of the elections “until the Permanent Voter Cards are made available to the plaintiffs.”

The other suit is praying for, among others, an order restraining INEC from using card readers for the conduct of the forthcoming polls and another order mandating INEC to allow “every willing Nigerian who has any voter card issued by INEC to vote at the general elections.”

The anti-PVC suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/06/2015, was filed by a group, Society for Advancement Protection of Public Rights seeking an order stopping the use of the Card Reader Machine for the forthcoming elections. The matter is before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Another suit filed before Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja is seeking to stop the use of the PVCs on the grounds that allowing it could amount to disenfranchisement of a lot of eligible voters.

The suit was filed by the Attorney General of Plateau State; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Titus Alams; and the chairmen of the 17 local government areas in the state against INEC.

Other plaintiffs in the suit include the Chairman of the Plateau State Council of Traditional Rulers, Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Gyang Buba; and former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Domkat Bali, who is the traditional ruler of the Tarok People in Langtang.

The latest among the anti-PVC suit was filed by four political parties – the United Democratic Party, Action Alliance, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria and Alliance for Democracy.

The plaintiffs, in the suit filed on their behalf by S.G Odey, said majority of their people were yet to get their PVCs and that they would be disenfranchised if the PVC is used for the elections scheduled for March 28 and April 11.

Also, between January 26, 2015 and middle of February 2015, at least 10 cases had been filed asking for the disqualification of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over his inability to submit his evidence of his academic qualifications to INEC.

Within the same period, two cases were filed against President Goodluck Jonathan’s eligibility to seek re-election. The Court of Appeal in Abuja recently affirmed Jonathan’s eligibility to seek re-election in the forthcoming polls.

There are two others seeking the same prayers now pending before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

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