A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has said that the election petitions in Nigeria should be handled by retired judges.
In a communique sent out on Thursday, the human rights activist argued that the judges serving in the courts have been overburden with national assignments and have left their jurisdictions, hence leaving all matters pending in their courts.
Falana further stated that a review should be carried out regarding preferences given to election petitions and appeals, adding that in certain neighbouring nations, election petitions are not handled by regular courts but by constitutional courts.
The advocate’s statement reads: “Over 350 Judges drawn from State High Courts, Federal High Court, and National Industrial Court and handling election petitions have adjourned all matters pending in their courts’ sine die. Their Lordships and Ladyships are said to have left their jurisdictions for “national assignment” in other parts of the country.
“Apart from appeals arising from pre-election cases and election petitions, both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are adjourning all pending appeals till 2020 and 2021. The vacation of the Justices of the Court of Appeal has been cancelled to enable them to handle election-related appeals.
“Since all litigants are equal before the law it is high time the preference given to election petitions and appeals by Nigerian courts was reviewed. In some neighbouring African countries, election petitions are not handled by regular courts but by constitutional courts.
“It is therefore suggested that the Constitution be amended to allow retired judges to handle election petitions and appeals arising from them. If our retired judges can handle arbitral matters and participate in judicial commissions of enquiry they should be saddled with the responsibility to handle election petitions and appeals arising from them.
“The injustice meted out to litigants whose cases are not political by the legal system should stop forthwith in the interest of justice”.