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Election disputes: Judiciary’ll not compromise, CJN tells EU

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed has assured the international community of the readiness of the Nigerian judiciary to dispassionately hear disputes that will arise from the forthcoming general elections and dispense justice without fear or favour.

The CJN, who gave the assurance when a delegation from the European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2015, led by the Deputy Chief Observer, Ms Hannah Roberts and the Legal Analyst, Ms Eirini-Marie Gounari, paid him a courtesy visit in his office on Tuesday, said he has intensified effort towards ensuring that all pending pre-election cases are speedily disposed off.

A statement signed by the media aide to the CJN, Mr. Ahuraka Isah, disclosed that the EU delegation were also received by other Justices of the apex court and the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.

According to the statement, the CJN, told the election observers that 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.

He said: “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 being 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”.

While giving an update on Election Petition Tribunals, the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa said that the 255 chairmen and members of the Election Petition Tribunal sworn in by the CJN since February 2, have since been constituted into 77 panels.

She said the panel chairmen and members have undergone training sessions and will be posted to the respective states where they will preside over election disputes.

“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 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.”

In her reaction,the head of the delegation, Ms Hannah Roberts said the European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2015 is headed by Mr Santiago Fisas, who doubles as a member of the EU parliament.

She said that the team is made up of many specialists, noting that, “Nigeria is a complex country with several challenges”.

“Our mission is to see that the election conforms with the standard as experienced in many European countries”

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