The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo SAN, has educated those calling for quick determination of election petitions, on the stand of the law.
The All Progressives Party Chieftain, who referred to such people as “plainly ignorant or crassly mischievous,” said it is almost impossible to get such request granted under our current electoral laws in Nigeria.
The legal luminary made this assertion via his Twitter handle on Sunday, warning those who are calling for such, to desist, for the benefit of their candidates.
According to him, it would be impossible to amend laws and rules of the court to accommodate such an idea, and the said idea is not helpful for the complaints to prove their cases at the tribunal.
The former Lagos human rights lawyer, made the assertion, following the calls by some Nigerians, asking the court to ensure the speedy determination of election petitions tendered before it, especially the presidential election, before the coming inauguration on May 29.
Some had argued that May 29 swearing-in should be postponed, pending the determination of the presidential election petitions, to announce who be installed as the next president.
Educating those who are making such demand, Keyamo wrote, “Those who think by such a call they are doing the Petitioners any good, do not realise that they are, in fact doing a great harm to the cases of the Petitioners.”
“THOSE CALLING FOR A QUICK DETERMINATION OF ELECTION PETITIONS BEFORE MAY 29TH UNDER OUR PRESENT LAWS WANT TO DESTROY THE CASES OF THE PETITIONERS.
“Those calling for the determination of the Election Petitions BEFORE the swearing-in ceremonies on MAY 29th under our present electoral laws and Rules of Court and/or procedure are either plainly ignorant or crassly mischievous.
“In future, it is possible to amend our laws and rules of court to accommodate such an idea, but it is IMPOSSIBLE under our present circumstances.
“Those who think by such a call they are doing the Petitioners any good, do not realise that they are, in fact doing a great harm to the cases of the Petitioners.
“It is the Petitioners that need more TIME to prove their cases and not necessarily the defendants. That is why the Petitioners are given 21 days to file and the defendants have 14 days to respond. And the Petitioners have a further 7 days to reply, making a total of 30 days as against the 14 days of the Respondents.
“It follows that in leading evidence in court/Tribunal in support of the Petitions, the Petitioners would also take more time. It is more arduous to prove an Election Petition than to defend it.
“If these characters say a single point (let’s say the FCT 25 per cent storm-in-a-teacup issue) should be set down for determination immediately, would the Petitioners’ lawyers agree to withdraw and abandon all other issues raised in their Petition and proceed only with that issue?
“Will they take that risk? Ask them privately. They know better. This is because the rules of Election Petitions do not allow Petitioners to prove their cases piecemeal.
“A Petitioner cannot pursue a single point up to the Supreme Court and after losing, return to the Tribunal or Court and say he/she/it wants to now prove other aspects of the case.
“Even that single point alone CANNOT be determined by the Supreme Court BEFORE MAY 29th because of the time given by the rules for parties to file their Notices of Appeal and exchange their briefs.
“It is indeed only the Respondent that can raise a preliminary objection that can determine the Petition in limine (that is, at the threshold). Even at that, the rules allow the Court/Tribunal to take the objection together with the Petition itself and give one judgment at the end to save time.
“So, this is free advice to the advocates of pre-May 29th determination of the Election Petitions: they are doing the cases of their Principals (the Petitioners) great harm.
“They should realise that just as we say ‘justice delayed is justice denied, we also say ‘justice rushed is justice crushed,”