Election Tribunal in Nigeria – an Overview

Election tribunal are set up by the federal government in the case of federal and states elections. The state government sets up election tribunal for the state local government elections. The judiciary is responsible for the setting up of the electoral tribunals, whether it is in the state or federal electoral matters.

Some justices of the court of Appeal are appointed to form the election tribunals in the case of the election into the presidency. Other staffs of the court of Appeal are appointed to work with them as clerks.

Judges of the high court are appointed into the election tribunals to hear the matters relating to election into federal constituencies and governorship; and election into House of Assemblies of the state. Each election tribunals is headed by a chairman.

The state judiciary appoints judges into the election tribunals of the state. The local government elections are verified by the tribunals whenever a petition against the conducts of the election is received.

The duties of the tribunals include verifying whether an election is conducted in accordance to electoral rules, whether the person elected is the person who has the majority of votes in an election and whether he was a member of secret cult etc or not qualified in age or certificate to contest.

The ruling of the tribunal is subject to appeal. However, the only recourse to an aggrieved party in an election is to challenge the person who won in a court or tribunal. A person who lost in an election files in a petition within the stipulated number of days and serves the respondent personally or though alternative mean of service as ordered by the tribunal.

The respondent replies the petition of the petitioner within the required day and all other processes through his lawyer. Note that a person who has no genuine grievances should not file a petition, but accept his defeat in good faith.

After a petition and replies to the petition have been exchanged, a date is selected for the argument of the parties through their counsels. After the argument and address to the court or adoption of written address, a date is selected for judgement. 

The judgement or ruling of the tribunals could be appealed against by the aggrieved party, but where not appealed against, the parties must obey the judgement. The final judgment of the court or tribunal in electoral matters is obeyed by parties.

The election tribunals must be made up of justices with credibility. Dispute over election results or declaration of candidates or any matter relating to election must be determined within three to six months after election.

The disputes must be determined before anybody is sworn in as an elected candidate. Free and fair elections demands that both foreign and local observers should be allowed to monitor the election in all sections of the country and make suggestions.

Those who looted Nigeria treasury with their position in government either as military officers or civilians should not be allowed access to power. Those who fall within this group should be barred from politics and should not be given appointment position in government. Only credible candidates should be given appointment position or allowed in politics.

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