By Longtong Ibrahim
Jos (Nigeria) – The National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Plateau state has been inaugurated and is expected to declare judgment within180 days of filling of petition on the 2015 general elections.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice O. O Akeredolu in her inaugural speech said setting up the Tribunal was in compliance with section 285 (1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and the electoral Act 2010 .
Justice Akeredolu said already, two senatorial elections, five house of representative and 13 state Assembly seats were challenged.
She warned counsels that arguments on objections on point of law will be deferred to final addresses, while live issues for trial will be settled within the period allotted to pre-trial conference; adding that the time frame allotted for pre-trial conference is 14 days of its commencement saying, “frivolous adjournments will not be tolerated.”
According to the tribunal chairman, should any of the party consider settling their differences, no terms of settlement would be required and would be a welcome idea.
She reminded all petitioners that due to insufficient time, sittings would be held from day to day, including Saturdays and with their consent on public holidays.
She however assured them of a level playing ground, according respect to all and ensuring justice is done to all parties without fear or favour .
The President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Plateau State chapter, Ledak D. Dafer commended members of the tribunal for their quality proceeding; calling on NBA members to learn to bring constructive argument that would enable them discharge their duty effectively.
He appealed for fair hearing and seek for the cooperation of the jurists to bring their wealth of experience to bear.
The Director in charge of legal drafting, Plateau State, Justine Manomi welcome the tribunal chairman and promised to accord them the necessary support to complete the sitting within the time frame .
He seeks the understanding of the counsels to exchange the full respect to tribunal practice evidence Act 2011.
“It is therefore desirable that counsel will acquaint themselves with these pieces of legislation to ensure smooth proceedings,” he explained.