Decide presidential petitions before May 29, Agbakoba tells tribunal

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A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba, has said a speedy dispensation of presidential election petitions is a strategy against having an interim government.

The Department of State Services on Wednesday said it had confirmed a plot “by some key players” to install an interim government and stop Bola Ahmed Tinubu from being inaugurated as president.

Reacting in a statement, Agbakoba said the “secret plans” must be rejected by all Nigerians.

Proffering a solution in a fresh statement on Monday, the senior advocate said there will be no need for an interim government if the petitions are heard and disposed of before May 29.

He said, “The tension around the call for an interim government is that the presidential election petition may not conclude before the inauguration of a new president on May 29, 2023.

“But it’s very possible to conclude these petitions, provided that the court systems are very proactive.

“Under arbitration matters, procedural orders and or directions issue peremptorily to resolve sometimes very complex jurisdictional and procedural issues.

“The presidential election tribunals are urged to adapt the procedures very familiar with speedy conclusion of arbitration matters.”

Agbakoba listed three key issues in the presidential election petitions which he said are resolvable by the application of procedural orders and or directions.

The first is the “interpretation of Section 134 of the 1999 Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as to whether securing 25%(Percent) of votes in federal capital territory Abuja is compulsory to be president”.
Secondly, “is a candidate permitted to stand for presidential or vice presidential election when he is at the same time a senatorial candidate?

The third point raised by the SAN is the “issue relating to the qualification of candidates to stand for the presidential election”.

“If the petition were arbitration proceedings, an arbitrator may issue a procedural order directed to counsel to address all complex disputes and the arbitral tribunal will deliver what is called a partial final award,” Agbakoba said.

“In the case of the presidential election tribunal, including the supreme court, they can also direct procedural orders with very short timelines given to counsel, to address the complex jurisdictional issues raised in the petitions and the tribunal/supreme court will then issue final summary judgment as appropriate.

“We strongly believe that between the tribunal and supreme court, the petitions can be resolved within seven days from today. This will cool the temperature in Nigeria on the issue of interim government etc.

“The speed proposed here requires a radical departure from our present judicial policy where case management plays a very limited role in judicial outcomes. Case management is the spirit and driving force of modern adjudication. Speed of justice is the mantra that our judiciary must proclaim very loudly. This is needed in the presidential petition proceedings urgently.”

The timeframe allowed by law for which an election petition must be heard and judgement delivered is 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition.

An appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or court must be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of the delivery of the judgment of the tribunal.

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