Post-elections: CSOs Seek Special Courts for Electoral Offences

Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

To alleviate the overwhelming caseload of electoral disputes in regular courts, the Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI), a Civil Society Organisation, has recommended the establishment of specialised courts dedicated to pre and post-election dispute resolution, including the handling of electoral offences.

Bukola Idowu of KDI made the recommendation in a report titled: ‘Viewing 2023 Post-Election through the Gender Lens’, in Abuja yesterday.

The report also calls for judicial independence, stating that: “As long as the court is not financially autonomous from the state to the federal level, there is a great possibility that the electorate will continue to perceive the judiciary’s financial dependency on the executive as a huge opportunity for the judiciary to be compromised and politicised.

“Alternatively, reducing the chain of appeals, particularly for presidential election petitions, can expedite the resolution process.

“Drawing inspiration from successful models in other African jurisdictions to enhance the efficiency of the electoral justice system in Nigeria.”

The report recommended that courts should establish clear criteria for approaching the court, such as restricting parties that gather less than 20 percent of votes from filing certain petitions, except on the question of valid votes. 

This can help curtail the number of petitions without merit.

It is suggested that the judiciary should prioritise the comprehensive training and retraining of all its officers, starting from the lowest cadre, and this training should incorporate modules on integrity and quality service delivery.

By addressing issues related to illiteracy among bailiffs, this recommendation aims to elevate the overall competence and professionalism of the judiciary, fostering a more effective and reliable electoral dispute resolution process.

The report also recommended that the media undergo specialised training on election petition tribunal reporting to ensure accurate and informed coverage.

According to him, “Additionally, engaging political parties on the consequences of sponsoring fake news will contribute to reducing misinformation. By improving media accuracy, this recommendation aims to promote public understanding and trust in the electoral justice system.”

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