The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education,(CHRICED) has advocated for judicial reform in the aftermath of the recent Supreme Court rulings on the governorship election disputes.
A statement by the Executive Director of CHRICED, Ibrahim Zikirullahi on Tuesday, January 16 said there was an urgent need for judicial reform to address “apparent misconduct within the judiciary”.
Highlighting concerns over potential manipulation by politicians seeking to influence lower courts, the statement acknowledged external pressure from citizens, civil society, and the media that played a crucial role in safeguarding the integrity of the judiciary.
The organisation specifically commended the Supreme Court’s decisions in governorship disputes in Kano, Plateau, and Zamfara States, preventing illegitimate power grabs by “political losers.”
“The centre urged the judiciary to take immediate action to address the observed misconduct during election cases, emphasising that failure to do so could lead to more instances of malpractice in future disputes.” the statement noted..
However, Zikirullahi called for an investigation into the conduct of the Election Petition Tribunals and the Court of Appeal, particularly where their decisions contradicted logic, the Nigerian Constitution, and the Electoral Act of 2022.
CHRICED also questioned the legal basis for “illogical and convoluted judgements” and emphasised the need to understand the motivations behind these decisions.
“When lower courts disregard established judicial precedents, it indicates motivations beyond upholding the law and ensuring justice.
“CHRICED firmly believes that urgent action must be taken by the judiciary to address the alarming level of misconduct witnessed during the election cases.
“Failing to take action will only pave the way for more instances of such misconduct in future election disputes. When judges sitting in tribunals and justices of the Appeal Court disregard the established judicial precedents set by the highest court in the country, it becomes evident that their motivations go beyond upholding the law and ensuring justice,” parts of the statement read.
The organisation also appealed to the National Judicial Council (NJC) to conduct a thorough review of decisions made by the Court of Appeal in various election cases, with a particular focus on Plateau State.
Commending the Supreme Court’s application of legal principles in dismissing petitions against Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State, CHRICED said it found hope in the court’s recent emphasis on upholding the rule of law.
“Let’s consider the Election Petition Tribunal in Kano State as an example. Where did the judges find the legal reasoning in the law books to justify deducting 165,663 votes from the 1,019,602 votes belonging to the NNPP? It is evident that their decision lacked a solid legal foundation and cannot be justified,” it said.