Imo People Wants National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal Disbanded
Following the Imo people’s loss of confidence in the Justice S.A Sanya’s led National Assembly election petition tribunal, panel 1, sitting in Owerri, owing to its incessant long adjournments, striking out and dismissing election petitions at pre-hearing sessions without due regard to the cost of appealing a preliminary application, the cost of pursuing appeals in piecemeal, the mood of Imolites and the time to complete the hearing of the petitions, which coincides with unconfirmed rumours in some quarters that the panel members may have compromised their integrity.
Imo people under the aegis of Network of Imo Youths, has however, urged the National Judiciary Council NJC and President Court of Appeal PCA, to use their good offices to intervene and disband the Justice S.A Sanya’s led National Assembly election petition tribunal, panel 1, to halt the reckless use of judicial powers, noting that the judiciary as the last hope of the common man should occupy a central place in every democracy and a tribunal charged with the adjudication of matters arising from electoral disputes should be fair in delivering justice to the people no matter whose ox is gored.
The group led by Chukwubuikem Amaefula, drew the attention of the NJC and the PCA to the fact that the panel “since its inauguration 3 months and 3 weeks ago, has not shown any likelihood of taking any petition before it above pre-trial stage, let alone commencing full trial”.
The group said ‘’ it is obvious from the conduct of the panel since its inauguration that the panel was not ready to conclude the petitions before it within the statutory 180 days owing to its never-ending long adjournments, a development which has further given credence to the general feeling amongst Imolites that the panel was set up to frustrate petitions of the All Progressive Congress APC, candidates in the state by ensuring that none of the petitions before it reaches the judgment stage within the statutory period of 180 days’’
They expressed fears that the panel may have compromised pointing out that the tribunal had struck out a petition of the Accord party without considering peculiar nature of the election petitions; the difference between Accord and Accord party even after the National party chairman of Accord party had insisted that the party authorized its state chapter to file a petition, the uniqueness of each case and facts as well as recourse to the electoral act section 137(1) which provides that there are two categories of persons who can file an election petition viz: (a) a candidate at an election; (b) a political party which participated at the election. The case of PPA VS Saraki (2007) 17 NWLR (PT 1064) 453 at 498-499.
Similarly the group cited the case of PDP V KSIEC (2006) 3 NWLR (pt.968) 565 at 638 and 639: where it was held that in a matter between a political party and the electoral body that its candidate was unlawfully excluded by the electoral body’ as both the party and the affected candidate can file petitions.
‘’We know that it is only Justice S.A Sanya’s election petition tribunal panel that can adjourn a petition for inspection of electoral materials for over a period of one month without recourse to limited time provided by the electoral act to address election petitions or striking out and dismissing APC member’s petitions using mere technicalities.
It added that the attitude of the court to technicalities was reinstated by the supreme court in the case of Senator Iyiola Omisore and Anor vs. Ogeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola and 2ors (2015) SC 204/2015 where per SC Nwaeze, stressing that ‘’ it is no longer in doubt that the court has dropped the old practice where justice is converted into a forensic slaughterhouse where legal practitioners employ fencing game to avert or delay justice ’, Afolabi v. Adekunle(1983) 2 SCNLR 141,150.those days are gone; gone for good”.
The convener also used the medium to call on all well-meaning Nigerians to, as a matter of urgency, call on all concerned authorities to intervene and disband the Justice S.A Sanya’s election petition tribunal panel sitting in Owerri, Imo state to avert the ugly brewing of a dangerous precedence that might rubbish the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s effort to reform the Nigerian judiciary and weed it of corrupt judges, as well as whittle down the people’s faith and confidence in both the Nigeria judiciary and the electoral process.