2007 Election, Worst Ever, Appeal Court President Says

No Comments » February 9th, 2009 posted by // Categories: Elections 2007



 

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2007 Election, Worst Ever, Appeal Court President Says


 

George Agba,Abuja

February 9th, 2009

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Abdullahi Umaru yesterday revealed a total of 1,527 petitions arising from the 2007 general elections were filed before the appellate court, the highest in the history of the country. He said the manner the 2007 general elections were conducted might have given room for the avalanche of petitions.

According to him, “the attitude of some lawyers as well as criticisms of judges hearing election petitions led to the delay in resolving many of the disputes that arose after the election”.

Justice Abdullahi who made this revelation during a courtesy visit paid to him by the President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and other national executive council members, noted that only 527 petitions were received in 2003.

He said”another problem is on how to constitute the panel to hear these appeals, either because of the criticisms from the public on some justices and various motions by counsel. We are not also comfortable with the delay. This is why I took it upon myself to preside over the appeals in various court’s divisions”.

Justice Umaru supported the appointment of lawyers to the Court of Appeal , just as he noted that the establishment of Communication Desk in all superior courts will save lawyers’ time. “I also support the appointment of legal assistants to reduce the work load of justices”, he added.

On his own part, Akeredolu who was at the public hearing of the House of Representative Committee on Legal Practitioners Act, Legal Aid Council Act and Police Act said the umbrella body of lawyers was aware of the avalanche of election petitions before the court which he said was “occasioned by the regrettable failure in our electoral system.”

He said election petitions appeals have not received adequate attention they deserve in terms of time taken to hear and determine them.

He said, “We cannot build democracy on failed Election and our judiciary, in particular the Court of Appeal where appeals on most petitions terminate. We therefore thought it necessary to pay this visit in the hope that we shall be in position to nurture an excellent and fruitful Bar-Bench relationship.”

“The handling of the Appeals has been of great concern to us. The fast track approach introduced at the trial is not complemented at the Appeal. We advocate a maximum period of 60 days upon settlement of briefs of argument. This is achievable and we are prepared to work with your Lordship to develop necessary procedure aimed at the goal”.

He further said “my Lord, we are already in a quagmire but whatever we can do to determine all Election Petition Appeals before the 2nd Anniversary of the Election will be a most welcomed development by the Nigerian people and nay the Bar.

“Your Lordship the Bar is of the strong view that the statutory provision as they stand today has put a lot of responsibilities on your office as the President of the Court of Appeal in Election Petition Matters.

“The demand of your office to set up both the trial and appeal panels we believe should be reviewed and amended to allow for the office of the CJN to set up the Appeal panels on your recommendation.”

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