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CJN to judges: Don’t betray Nigerians’ trust on 2023 election matters

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has admonished judges nominated for the resolution of the 2023 election disputes to discharge the trust reposed…

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has admonished judges nominated for the resolution of the 2023 election disputes to discharge the trust reposed in them by the country transparently.

Speaking at the opening of a four-day capacity building workshop for justices and judges on election matters at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja, on Monday, Justice Ariwoola charged the judicial officers to rise and operate above every sentiment that might play out in the course of their adjudication in the various tribunals.

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“Your lordships should count yourselves worthy to be so entrusted with this humongous responsibility of deciding the fate of those that would be contesting elections into various political offices in the country in 2023.

“Though judicial officers are not known to possess some supernatural powers to perform wonders, I can confidently assure you that the society in which you operate will certainly expect the impossible from you as members of election petition tribunals.

“Trust is a burden and you must discharge it with the utmost sincerity, honesty and transparency, because conscience is an open wound healed only by truth.

“You must rise and operate above every sentiment that might play out in the course of your adjudication in the various tribunals,” he said.

Similarly, the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, noted that 277 judges were nominated for the assignment thus: Federal High Court 4; National Industrial Court 3; FCT/State High Court 213; Customary Court 13; Sharia Court 27 and Chief Magistrate Court 17.

She urged them to bring their experiences to bear in the discharge of their responsibility.

We are battling 600 pre-election cases – INEC

In his remarks, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed that the commission is currently confronted with 600 cases arising from primaries of the various political parties for the 2023 general elections.

He explained that the commission studied the judgements of the 2019 general elections tribunals, the off-cycle governorship elections and the by-elections conducted so far and identified areas which led to reduced litigations.

“Only two weeks ago, one political party served about 70 court processes on the commission in one day seeking to compel us to accept the nomination or substitution of its candidates long after the deadline provided in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Elections had elapsed.

“Some of the cases will go up to the Supreme Court,” he said.

He highlighted how eight improvements in the Electoral Act 2022 would improve the upcoming 2023 general elections, especially with the introduction of technological innovations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is an improvement on the gaps in the Electoral Act 2010.

“Similarly, the new electoral act confers exclusive jurisdiction to hear pre-election cases on the Federal High Court with regard to candidates nomination in order to reduce forum shopping by litigants, abuse of court process and reduction in the spate of conflicting judgements by courts of coordinate jurisdiction,” he said.