AARE Afe Babalola, a legal luminary and the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), stated today that tribunals hearing election petition shouldn’t be presided over by current judges.
The elderly Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) suggested that judges who preside over election tribunals should be separate from judges who sit over regular courts, to prevent the suspension of cases unrelated to elections.
He proposed that the tribunal’s judges be honorable SANs and retired judges.
The renowned lawyer also noted while speaking at a celebration in Ado-Ekiti to mark his 60th anniversary at the bar, that the judiciary needs a complete overhaul
“Our judiciary today needs a total overhaul and you cannot do it without a new constitution,” he said. “I have about three cases myself in respect of matters arising from the university.”
“For the past four years, these cases have been on. We have some judges here, the headquarters won’t be able to sit for many months because they are handling what they call election petitions.
“Election petitions should not be handled by sitting judges, they should be decided only by the committee set up consisting of senior advocates and retired judges in that case regular courts would not close down,” Babalola stated.
Several contestants who felt wronged by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) results filed petitions at tribunals sitting in Abuja challenging the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 25 as well as the governorship and state assembly elections held on March 18.
Among the dignitaries present at the event are former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bishop Matthew Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife, Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, and human rights attorney Femi Falana (SAN).