Time-limit for elec­tion dis­putes vi­o­lates pe­ti­tion­ers’ rights –Salami

Daily Trust - - NEWS - From Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, Ilorin

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”.

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