A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Prof. Paul Ananaba has advocated for all election petitions to be concluded within 60 days and before swearing-in.
The Supreme Court had yesterday affirmed President Bola Tinubu’s election, 171 days after the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) lodged their appeal seeking to invalidate his February 15, 2023 win.
But Ananaba is not happy with the length of the legal tussle and believes election petitions should be concluded before swearing-in.
“There is no reason why every election petition in Nigeria cannot be completed within 60 days before anybody is sworn in at all,” he said today on Channels Television.
“Why do we need 180 days for a petition? Another 60 days for the Court of Appeal, another 60 days Supreme Court.”
“We would say ‘Yes, the court has given judgment’. But it’s better if nobody has been sworn in and elections are taken clearly. Within two months of every election, including the presidential, you can determine the petition that may arise to finality.
“If INEC is given seven days after the election and the declaration of results to forward and put on their website all electoral results in any event—all the panelists in all the tribunals will have the results, all the political parties will have the results—it will be there in the NBA within another seven days, that makes it 14 days.
“Every person who is having a complaint will now limit the complaint clearly within the results declared.
“It goes into what has been transmitted. Within seven days, the tribunal will sit on these identified areas and INEC will no longer be a party in terms of being a respondent; INEC will be an independent party to answer to any issues pertaining to them,” he said.
His comment comes over 100 days after Tinubu was sworn in as Nigeria’s president.
Despite petitions to nullify his victory, a seven-judge panel dismissed the opposition’s appeals over claims of fraud, electoral law violations, and Tinubu’s ineligibility to run for president.
While the PDP and LP have faulted the verdict, Ananaba says everyone will not agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The senior attorney also argued that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be regarded as an independent party and should not be a respondent in cases brought before election petition tribunals.
He recommended that the National Assembly examine and revise the Electoral Act 2022 to provide clarity and facilitate petitions.