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GROUP PETITIONS A' COURT PRESIDENT OVER PENDING 300 ELECTORAL CASES

By NBF News

The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has expressed dismay over the huge number of electoral cases currently pending at the Appeal Courts in the country.

The number is put at 300. Intersociety said it was worrisome that such number of cases were still pending in the Appeal Courts nationwide barely five months to the next elections coming up in early 2011.

In a petition to the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra State, Intersociety expressed the fear that the pending cases might not get their legal merit since the judges handling them would be constrained by time limitation.

In the petition entitled: 'Lingering Cases Arising From the 2007 Elections' Disputes Are Undermining the Competence of Your Lordship and the Reputation of the Nigerian Judiciary,' jointly signed by its Chairman of Board of Trustees, Emeka Umeagbalasi and the Head of Publicity Desk, Justus Ijeoma, the group wondered how the 2007 election matters could still be pending before the Appeal Court more than three years after the election.

'We had drawn the attention of Your Lordship, Justice Ayo Salami, to the continued pending of over 40 cases arising from the 2007 general elections, especially the legislative polls' disputes, lying before the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal and ever since then, credible sources have hinted that there might be about 300 similar electoral court cases pending before various Divisions of the Hallowed Court of Appeal in Nigeria, which arose from the same 2007 polls.'

'Going by the amendments to the Constitution of Nigeria (1999), the INEC Establishment Act of 2004 and the Electoral Act of 2006, which we understand, are at their final stages of passage into law,' the group continued, 'it is now less than five months before next general elections, believed to have been scheduled to hold in January 2011 and less than ten months to the end of the present dispensation, yet many of the matters are still pending.'

The statement said a situations where the judiciary would be battling with old electoral legal order in the presence of new electoral legal order would not speak good of our ennobled judicial system.