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Lagos Elections Tribunal Warns Lawyers Over Delay

The Lagos State National and State Houses of Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal has warned lawyers that it would not tolerate strategies aimed at delaying the expeditious determination of petitions.

The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Sylvanus Oriji, gave the warning on Tuesday at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal in Ikeja.

Other members of the threeman tribunal are Justices K. Dabo and Kadi Yusuf.

More than thirty petitions, arising from the 2015 National Assembly and Lagos State House of Assembly elections   have been filed before the tribunal.

Oriji emphasiszed that election petitions were delicate and sensitive to handle because they must be heard and determined within 180 days as specified by Section 285 (6) of the 1999 Constitution.

He said: “It is now well established that any judgment delivered by an Election Tribunal in an election petition after 180 days from the date of filing is a nullity.

“It is for this reason that we implore you all to give the tribunal the necessary support and co-operation, both at the pre-hearing conferences and   throughout the hearing of the petitions.

“Without your co-operation, it will be difficult for the tribunal to succeed in its onerous task to conclude all the pending election petitions within 180 days as stipulated by the Constitution.

“In this regard, the tribunal will not tolerate any action or omission (or strategy) aimed at delaying or frustrating the expeditious hearing and determination of the petitions.”

According to him, the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, especially the First Schedule, clearly stated the terms for taking procedural steps to ensure the speedy hearing and determination of petitions.

Oriji said in conducting their matters before the tribunal, lawyers should be guided by the rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners and show respect to the Bench and their colleagues.

The judge also advised the media to report the proceedings of the tribunal accurately, adding that the members of the panel would discharge their duties “without fear or favour’’.

He said: “Finally, it is a common saying that the interests and stakes in political matters (such as election petitions)   are very high.

`Whilst this may be true, we must always bear in mind that the stake and interest of this tribunal; and indeed the Nigerian judiciary, to do justice to all, are higher than the interest of any individual.”

Responding on behalf of the lawyers, Mr. Ademola Sadiq, assured the tribunal that all the admonitions given by the judge would be strictly adhered to in the interest of justice.

Sadiq also appealed to the media to report the proceedings before the tribunal accurately, and to verify their facts before going to press. (NAN)

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