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CONSTITUTION REVIEW: GOVERNORSHIP PETITION TERMINATES AT SUPREME COURT

By NBF News
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may now have a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 150 days as timeline for the conduct of presidential, governorship, national and states Assembly elections in 2011.

This is coming on the heels of the rejection by the Senate of an Executive Bill submitted to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan for the alteration of the Electoral Act 2010 particularly Section 87(8) to allow political appointees to emerge as automatic delegates to the Convention of political parties.

This proposed amendments, which are contained in the report of the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution equally restored Governorship Election Tribunal as a court of first instance in petitions arising from governorship elections just as it recommended that petitions from governorship elections should terminate at the Supreme Court. According to the 13-page report; 'The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court of law in Nigeria to hear and determine appeals from Court of Appeal with regards to Governorship election petition.'

The report, however, said that such an appeal shall lie from decisions of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court as of right in cases where the ground of appeal involves questions of law alone, decisions in any civil or criminal proceedings before the Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court shall equally entertain decisions in any civil or criminal proceedings on questions as to the interpretation or application of the Constitution as well as decisions in any civil or criminal proceedings on questions as to whether any of the provisions of Chapter IV of the Constitution has been or likely to be contravened in relation to any person.

The amendment of Section 29 of the First Alteration Act to the Constitution and Section 285 of the Constitution equally provided that appeals from the Appeal Court to the Supreme Court must be dispensed within 60 days.

The Committee's Report which is to be voted on next week Tuesday reads in part: 'An appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or Court of Appeal in an election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of the delivery of judgment of the tribunal.'

Similarly, Section 233, sub-section 2e(iv) was amended to pave way for the Supreme Court to receive appeals on petitions arising from governorship elections.