Femi Falana in a communique sent out on Thursday, advocated for election petitions to be handled by retired Judges as serving judges have been overburdened, leaving all matters pending in their courts to carry out national assignments.
The human rights activists pointed out the adjournment of court cases by over 350 Judges of the State High Courts, Federal High Court, and National Industrial Court, for a ‘national assignment’ which was never within their jurisdiction.
Femi Falana pushed for a review of preference given to election petitions and appeals, and further stated that such cases are not handled by regular courts in neighbouring countries but by constitutional courts.
The statement reads “Over 350 Judges drawn from State High Courts, Federal High Court, and National Industrial Court and handling election petitions have adjourned all matters pending in their courts’ sine die. Their Lordships and Ladyships are said to have left their jurisdictions for “national assignment” in other parts of the country.
“Apart from appeals arising from pre-election cases and election petitions, both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are adjourning all pending appeals till 2020 and 2021. The vacation of the Justices of the Court of Appeal has been cancelled to enable them to handle election-related appeals.
“Since all litigants are equal before the law it is high time the preference given to election petitions and appeals by Nigerian courts was reviewed. In some neighbouring African countries, election petitions are not handled by regular courts but by constitutional courts.
“It is therefore suggested that the Constitution be amended to allow retired judges to handle election petitions and appeals arising from them. If our retired judges can handle arbitral matters and participate in judicial commissions of enquiry they should be saddled with the responsibility to handle election petitions and appeals arising from them.
“The injustice meted out to litigants whose cases are not political by the legal system should stop forthwith in the interest of justice”.