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ELECTION BUREAUCRACIES AND THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY
Appeal Court President: We’ve Received over 600 Pre-election Cases
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, at the weekend, said the court had so far received 600 pre-election matters from its 20 divisions.
Justice Dongbam-Mensem made this known when the Ambassador of the European Union Delegation, Samu
ela Isopi, paid her a visit to her office.
“The court received over 600 pre-election appeals in the 20 divisions of the court from November to date, and more appeals are still being filed.
“Over 60 panels were set up in the various divisions to hear and determine all pre-election appeals filed.
“Mindful of the pressures under which the Hon Justices are working, some experienced court registrars were empanelled to summarise the decisions so far made and distribute to the various divisions to avoid conflicting decisions,” she said.
The president expressed joy at her presence which, she said, provided an opportunity to exchange views, share experiences, and learn from their respective experiences in their countries.
According to her, transparency in the electoral process is one of the core values of democratic stability in a nation.
She stated that the active involvement of Election Observation Missions in Nigeria to ensure free, fair, and credible elections is appreciated.
“It is pertinent to state that the role of these Observer Organisations has greatly impacted the resolve to review the Electoral Act, 2010.
“The Electoral Act 2022 has introduced laudable innovations to strengthen our democracy and ensure credible elections.
“The Court of Appeal has reviewed, developed, and expanded the scope of working materials for Judges,” she said.
According to her, there is now a Judicial Electoral Manual that incorporates decisions of the Supreme Court and those of th
e appellate court and the “critical” fundamental sectons of the Electoral Act, 2022.
She said this is to ensure that appeals with similar facts and issues are categorised together to maintain the doctrine of stare decisis.
“In preparation for the delivery of its constitutional mandate, the court faces numerous challenges which include but are not limited to paucity of funds,” she said.
“Permit me to state that the court is in a dilemma; we have just 21 days to the general election, and the special intervention fund to conduct the Election Petition Tribunal is yet to be released,” she said.
She added that this would impact negatively on the activities of the court and tribunals to discharge their constitutional duties effectively.
“It is expected that by now, provisions would have been made for the procurement of necessary materials and equipment needed for the smooth running of the various tribunals.
“Also, we ought to have organised further training for Hon. Justices, Members of the Tribunals, and Secretariat Staff, but we cannot due to lack of funds.
“We are hopeful that these challenges will be addressed soon before the general election.
“I thank your excellences for the visit and look forward to a fruitful interactive session,” she said.
Speaking, Isopi, expressed delight in the effort noticed in the improvement in election matters.
“One of the points you made was to support the judiciary in building the capacity of judges on election-related matters.
“I am happy to say we could support 300 judges in training.
“We also trained secretaries and support staff because this is seen as being crucial for us.
“This is because we know that it really can contribute to improving and promoting election disputes resolutions,” she said