By Bello Galadi,
 
NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: The legal battle between the PDP and APC over the February 25th 2023 Presidential Election ended today. Even though the Supreme Court had resolved all the seven (7) issues formulated for determination against the PDP, however, the PDP is not the real loser. The real loser is the APC, because five (5) months have been taken away from its 4- year mandate (from 29th May, 2023 to 26th October, 2023).
In all honesty, we need to start discussions on how to amend the Nigeria’s Constitution, the Electoral Act and other relevant laws, so that in future, elected officers are allowed to enjoy their uninterrupted and undiluted 4- year mandate without unnecessary distractions.
In my humble opinion, INEC should conduct the General Elections six (6) months to the date of swearing- in (29th May). All election cases should be determined before the swearing- in.
Elected officers should be allowed to concentrate fully on governance, otherwise the essence of Section 308 (1), (2) and (3) of the Nigeria’s Constitution has been defeated. The Section had donated civil and criminal immunity for the President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor respectively.
As a sitting elected officer, the tendency of the officer to illegally use public resources to prosecute his election petition cases is high, because, in Nigeria, it is ordinarily difficult to differentiate between the public and personal money.
The Laws should be amended to provide for two (2) weeks to file petitions arising from all elections. Two (2) months should be allotted for the Election Petition Tribunals (EPT) to determine their cases. Two (2) weeks should be provided for the filing of appeals arising from the decisions of the EPT. One (1) month should be allotted for the determination of appeals from the EPTs. Appeals from the decisions of EPTs should terminate at the Court of Appeal for gubernatorial elections instead of the Supreme Court.
In my opinion, retired Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Federal High Courts, States High Courts, National Industrial Courts, Kadis of Sharia Courts of Appeal and Judges of Customary Courts of Appeal should be appointed as members of Election Petition Tribunals. The power to appoint the members should be vested in the Chief Justice of Nigeria, in consultations with the National Judicial Council and Federal Judicial Council.
EPT is a critical component of our democracy, as such, the CJN should choose only the hardworking, sound, incorruptible, uncompromiseble, credible and competent persons as members of the EPT. The public should be allowed to comment on suitability and character of the nominees. They should be entitled to allowances and other benefits only. There should be Guidelines to guide their operations with stiff punishments for violators. They should be made to swear by the Holy Quran or Bible during their inaugurations
The primary duty of the Justices/ Judges is to adjudicate for the general public. As it is now, quite a number of members of the EPT had no option but to jettison their primary responsibilities for the national assignment (EPT). The consequence is that cases will continue to experience unnecessary delay, because preference will always be given to political cases at the expense of non- political.
The earlier we start, the better for us.       
 
Galadi is a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Gusau Branch (covering Zamfara State). He is the President of Bello Galadi Foundation.
He can be reached on:
Muhammadbel_law@yahoo.com and muhammadbellaw80@gmail.com and twitter handle:@bello_galadi1
 
26th October, 2023
 
 

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