Speedy Process At Tribunal Will Destroy Election Petitions – Keyamo
Former minister of state for Labour and employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, has described those calling for the determination of the Election Petitions before the swearing-in ceremonies on MAY 29th under Nigeria’s present electoral laws and Rules of Court as “either plainly ignorant or crassly mischievous”.
There have been calls against the swearing-in of President-elect Bola Tinubu on May 29 because of the contentions against his February 25 presidential election win in court. The latest call comes from former Archbishop Cardinal John Onaiyekan.
Reacting, Keyamo issued on Twitter, “In future, it is possible to amend our laws and rules of court to accommodate such an idea, but it is clearly 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 percent 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 in order to save time.
“So, this is a 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’.”