CJN laments burden of hearing governorship election cases

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, on Tuesday, lamented the burden the Justices of the Supreme Court have to grapple with to hear the appeals arising from the 2019 governorship elections and deliver judgments within time.

Earlier on Monday, the apex court had to cut short ongoing proceedings and adjourn 13 appeals scheduled for hearing till Tuesday, due to the sudden illness developed by one of the members of its seven-man panel.

The CJN led the seven-man panel of the apex court scheduled to hear 13 appeals connected with the governorship election disputes from six states.

He expressed worry over the need for the court to meet imminent deadlines, some as near as three days’ time.

“On this list, there are 13 appeals on hear today,” he said, adding, “it is unrealistic, I must be sincere.”

Urging lawyers to speak for the judges in finding a solution to the caseload of the apex court, he said, “When you find yourself in positions of authority, please do something.”

The Constitution makes it mandatory for the Supreme Court to deliver its judgment on an appeal arising from an election dispute within 60 days of Court of Appeal’s verdict being appealed against.

While the election petition tribunal has 180 days to deliver its judgment from the time of filing an election petition, the Court of Appeal has 90 days to deliver its verdict on the appeal from the time of the tribunal’s judgment.

The CJN said despite the odds, the Supreme Court would deliver its judgments on all election-related cases within the 60 days stipulated by law.

“I am 100 percent sure that the Supreme Court has never failed to deliver its judgments before the expiration of time,” Justice Muhammad said.

He also said the court would be “realistic, in order to save the situation.”

He, therefore, directed that only the appeals that would be expiring on January 17 would be entertained on Tuesday.

The rest that would be expiring on January 20 and beyond were adjourned.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court heard the case on the Kano State governorship election dispute and fixed January 20 for judgment.

The ones to be heard on Tuesday relate to the disputes on Imo and Sokoto states governorship elections.

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