Monday 9 January 2023

Appeal Court President Cautions Election Petition Tribunals Registrars Against Corrupt Acts


The President of the Court of Appeal, Ms. Monica Dongban-Mensem on Monday, cautioned registrars attached to the 2023 Election Petition Tribunals against corrupt acts.

Ms Dongban-Mensem said registrars who were chosen from various jurisdictions of the Nigerian courts must not see the task as “an opportunity to make money to enrich yourselves.”

She spoke on Monday at a workshop on capacity building for election petitions tribunals at the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Abuja.

Declaring the two-day event open, Ms Dongban-Mensem, whose court serves as the secretariat for the election petitions tribunals and enlists judges and support staff for the exercise, added, “The court will not hesitate to deal with anyone found wanting in this regard.”

The appellate court president noted that registrars found wanting in compromising the judicial process would be sacked by the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) and prosecuted.

“It is part of your obligation to discharge your duties with utmost good faith and not be carried away by little advances.

"Your integrity and that of the Tribunal and its members are in the public spotlight, you must therefore ensure you are not used as weapons to truncate the process. Ensure to live above boards so that you will not put the Judiciary into disrepute.”

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, had in November inaugurated over 300 judges that would be serving on different panels of the election petitions tribunals to adjudicate disputes expected to arise from the February 2023 elections.

Mr Ariwoola, while swearing them in, warned them against corrupt practices.

Essence of workshop

With less than two months to Nigeria’s general elections, Ms Dongban-Mensem said the training was meant to highlight the challenges associated with election adjudication with a view to proffering solutions.

The appeal court president explained that the need to tackle the problems in the electoral process brought about the “Election Tribunal(s)” which has been adequately provided for in the Constitution.

“They are established for the purposes of determining disputes arising from the conduct of elections into the various elective positions.”

She noted that the “training will serve as a forum for you to share experiences with one another wherein guidance will be provided and strategies devised for the strengthening of the Tribunals.”

Ms Dongban-Mensem highlighted some of the responsibilities of the tribunal registrars including “receipt of Petitions and other Court Processes for filing, Service of Court Processes timeously on Parties, issuance of Hearing Notices, preparation of Court Proceedings and Orders, custody and safekeeping of the Tribunals’ documents, compilation of records among …others.”

“It is important for you to familiarise yourselves with the provisions of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Practice Direction as it affects your performance at the Registry.”

Ms Dongban-Mensem pointed out that election tribunals must be opened seven days before the elections, noting that “the challenges faced by Election Tribunals in Nigeria are numerous.”

The general elections are scheduled for 25 February and 11 March.

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