Time-limit for election disputes violates petitioners’ rights –Salami
Former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, yesterday faulted the provisions of section 285 (6) and (7) of the 1999 constitution, which fixed time for election disputes.
He maintained that the period of 180 days given for the tribunal and 60 days for the subsequent appeal is inadequate, and “violates petitioners’ and appellants’ rights to fair hearing”.
Delivering the seventh Justice M.M.A Akanbi lecture titled, “2015 General Elections and Sustainable Democracy: Judicial Challenges and Public Expectations” organised by the Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, Salami lamented that Nigeria’s political parties are too powerful.
He stressed the need for a proactive judiciary which he described as a panacea to the rot in Nigeria’s electoral system.
He noted that “corruption, disregard for due process, insensitivity and impunity on the part of government functionaries have considerably contributed in weakening the electoral process”.
The jurist urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria to address the issue “to afford litigants opportunity to vent their grievances and permit the court to settle this vexed issue one way or the other. Fixing time within which to dispose of election matters by tribunals and courts does not evince fair hearing. It violates petitioners’ and appellants’ right to fair hearing”.
He recalled that some senior lawyers had argued over the inadequacy of the period but they were referred to the National Assembly which was empowered to amend the law, noting that, “In Common Law countries where an enactment is ultra vires, it is the court that cuts it down”.