From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

The House of Representatives is proposing a law to make determination of all election litigations mandatory before the winners are sworn into office.

The proposed legislation sponsored by Mansur Manu Soro is entitled: “A bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to provide for the determination of all appeals arising from election petitions tribunals prior to the swearing-in of president-elect, vice president-elect, governor-elect, deputy governor-elect, members-elect of the national and state assemblies and for related matters.”

Specifically, the bill is seeking an alteration of Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) by inserting after subsection (13) (A) a new subsection (i) to provide “that all appeals arising from the presidential, governorship, national and state assemblies election petition tribunals shall be determined by the appellate courts prior to the swearing-in of candidates returned as winners by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).”

The bill is also proposing a new subsection (ii) to Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which shall mandate the INEC to “prepare its guidelines and timeliness of activities to provide for sufficient time for the determination of all appeal cases before the swearing-in of candidates.”

Similarly, the House is also proposing another bill to reduce the period for determination of pre-election cases. The bill  entitled: “A bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to reduce the lengthy period for determination of pre-election petition matters and for related matters,” is sponsored by Soro, Saidu Abdullahi and Obed Shehu.

The bill, according to the explanatory memorandum, is aimed at reducing “the lengthy period for determination of pre-election matters, election petitions; to mitigate the negative impacts created by distraction to governance at all levels.”

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Specifically, the proposed legislation is seeking an alteration of Section 285 sub section 5 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide for the filing of election petition within 14 days of the declaration of election results.

Also, it is proposing an amendment of Section 284 sub section 6 to  stipulate that “an election petition tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 90 days from the date of the filing of the petition. While the proposed amendment to Section 285 sub section 7 provides that, “an appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or Court of Appeal shall be heard and disposed of within 30 days from the date of the delivery of judgment of tribunal or Court of Appeal.”

Similarly, the proposed amendment to Section 285 sub section 9 read: “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, every pre-election matter shall be filed not later than 10 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action complained of in the suit. Also, an appeal from a decision from a pre-election matter is expected to be filed within 10 days of the decision.

According to the proposed amendment to Section 285 sub section 10, “a court in every pre-election matter shall deliver its judgment in writing within 90 days from the date of filing the suit. The bill is proposing an amendment to Section 285 sub section 12 to stipulate that, “an appeal from a decision of a court in a pre-election matter, shall be heard and disposed of within 30 working days from the date of filing of the appeal.”

Also, the proposed legislation is seeking to alter Section 284 sub section 14 to introduce a new sub section 14(d) to bar candidates from challenging the conduct of primary election of another political party.

The proposal reads : “Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, aspirant or candidate from another political party shall have no right to approach a court on the ground of the conduct of primary election conducted by a political party, except the party he belongs to.”


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