CHIEF Judge of Enugu State, Justice Ngozi Emehelu, has advocated for the extension of the 180 days statutory period within which election petition cases are adjudicated. Emehelu, who stated this during the public hearing of the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee in Enugu, yesterday, said the stipulated time is inadequate for petitioners to prove their cases. She said petitioners appear to have uphill tasks of proving their cases because of limited time, adding that some areas of the electoral act needed to be tinkered with to make more time for adjudication. She said: “The electoral act gives 180 statutory days within which to conclude petitions but there are certain things that needed to be put in place even before adjudication starts. “It does appear that the petitioners have uphill tasks because time is not on their side, so there is need to tinker some aspects of the law.” Emehelu said that the constitution and electoral act needed to empower tribunals to make consequential orders in the course of adjudication to accommodate reliefs not sought by petitioners. “There have been cases where petitions are well fought but lost because the proper reliefs are not sought by parties. “We recommend that the tribunal be given legal teeth to make consequential orders to grant such reliefs not sought,” she said. The Chief Judge noted that the electoral act had been constantly criticized due to inherent flaws notwithstanding several alterations. “The problem with the system is not with our procedural laws but the unwillingness to enforce the electoral laws.We recommended that the report of the Justice Uwais committee should be called into play when your committee is doing its work,” she said. Emehelu called for the employment of more judges across the country to make up for lost time by the court due to the enrolment of several judges to adjudicate on election matters. “It is better to use high court judges to sit on election petitions but it has become necessary to employ more judges to check the depletion of our courts during election petitions hearing,” Emehelu said.
Speaking at the occasion, a representative of the Transitional Monitoring Group,TMG, Mrs Miriam Menkiti, said that amendments of relevant laws needed to be made to provide for electoral offences commission. Menkiti called for the amendment of Section 221 of the Constitution to provide for independent candidacy in the electoral process, pointing out that all sections of the constitution or electoral law that used one gender needed to be amended in order to check gender discrimination. Former Secretary to the Enugu State Government, Prof. OnyemaOchioha, suggested that multi-party system is not good for Nigeria and it should have a minimum of two political parties and a maximum of four.

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