An international NGO known as The Electoral Hub has called on the Nigeria Judiciary system for an open Judicial Process and electoral justice for Nigerians as the court commences hearing of the Presidential election petition tribunals.
Seun Kuti has been placed under arrest- Lagos police spokesperson Benjamin Hundeyin says
Director, IRIAD in a statement she signed and made available to journalists cautioned the judiciary to be objective while carrying out its duties and ensure that justice is brought to Nigeria and Nigerians irrespective of who it may favour at the end of the day.
According to the letter, Successive elections in Nigeria have been widely characterized by contestations and the effort towards their amicable resolution through the judiciary. Events in the aftermath of the 2023 general election, held February 25 and March 18, 2023, across the country allude to this. The election, albeit lauded for attempts towards improving transparency, produced results that sparked contestations and grievances amongst contestants, citizens, civil society actors, and other critical stakeholders in the country. In response, four (4) of the eighteen (18) political parties (and their candidates) that partook in the 2023 general presidential elections turned to the judiciary for the resolution of disputes. The National Judicial Council (NJC) under the leadership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola had constituted a total of 257 Judges to hear petitions arising from the 2023 general election.
Monday, May 8, 2023, marked the onset of proceedings for the 2023 election petition tribunals. Interlocutors, political commentators, and historical antecedents have widely reiterated the importance of the election judicial process in the country’s democracy. As previous experiences have shown, tribunal rulings could either nullify the election or uphold the results of the polls by dismissing petitions, making it almost as important as the voting process itself. It is, therefore, important that the judicial process in the election tribunals is conducted in conformity with extant provisions to produce just outcomes. This points to two critical issues which stakeholders must not lose sight of as the judicial process proceeds:
The need for compliance with extant legislations guiding the process, and
The need for an ‘unbiased’ and open judiciary.
Recognizing the above and in line with The Electoral Hub’s commitment to promoting electoral knowledge, accountability, and electoral integrity, we call on all stakeholders to discharge their duties conscientiously and conform with the rule of law. The Electoral Hub specifically call on the judicial panelists, political parties and their candidates, civil society actors and organizations, and the general public to take steps toward ensuring the credibility of the election judicial process. Our expectations at The Electoral Hub include the following:
Adhere to the ethics of the Bench and legal profession, by acting in compliance with the guiding principles of the Bench, display neutrality, and uphold principles of the rule of law.
Comply with legal frameworks guiding the election adjudication at all times.
Avoid all actions that may be perceived as unfair and biased. Justice should not only be done but also seen to be done
Political Parties and Candidates
Avoid inciteful comments that could heat up the polity, ignite violence and threaten lives and properties.
Respect the laws guiding the process
Be willing to accept the outcome of the process
Civil Society Organizations
Engage judicial, political, and electoral stakeholders to ensure compliance with relevant legal frameworks
Monitor the process to ensure fairness and openness through sustained advocacy or other best practices
Support the process with research and information about best practices
Create awareness by disseminating relevant information
Curb misinformation and fake news about the process through fact-checking and sharing correct information
Monitor the process and provide accurate reportage of proceedings
Create awareness and educate the public
Ensure fairness and openness of the process through sustained media advocacy Collaborate with CSOs in curbing misinformation and fake news about the process
Discharge their civic responsibility by closely following the process and engaging issues with patriotism
Demand for accountability and transparency from actors and institutions involved in the 2023 electoral judicial process
Engage stakeholders to ensure compliance with relevant legal frameworks
Ensure good conduct while exercising active citizenship as Nigerians
In conclusion, as the tribunal proceedings continue, we urge the Judges to uphold the values of neutrality and fairness.
We also demand that the Election Tribunal process be made public to ensure transparency and openness as this would enhance fairness and credibility. We also urge the media, and other civil society actors to disseminate the right information by deploying fact-checking tools to prevent misinforming the general public. Ultimately, the Election Petition Tribunal is not only important for its role in determining the final outcome of the 2023 general elections but could also revive public trust in the Nigerian democracy.
Seunmanuel Faleye is a brand and communications strategist. He is a covert writer and an overt creative head. He publishes Apple's Bite International Magazine.