Seventy-two hours after the commencement of proceedings at the Presidential Election Tribunal, a civil society organisation under the aegis of the Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy for Development – The Electoral Hub, on Wednesday, charged the tribunal to make its process public to ensure transparency and openness.
The organisation called on citizens to “discharge their civic responsibility by closely following the process and engaging issues with patriotism” and should also “demand for accountability and transparency from actors and institutions involved in the 2023 electoral judicial process.”
The organisation also called on the panel to adhere to the ethics of the Bench and legal profession, by acting in compliance with the guiding principles of the Bench, displaying neutrality and upholding principles of the rule of law.
The PUNCH reported that The Electoral Hub manages The Electoral Reform and has senior citizens, including a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega as members.
Four of the 18 political parties (and their candidates) that partook in the 2023 general presidential elections had turned to the judiciary for the resolution of disputes with the National Judicial Council under the leadership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola constituting a total of 257 Judges to hear petitions arising from the 2023 general election.
A statement by the Director of IRIAD-The Electoral Hub Princess Hamman-Obels on behalf of the organisation, demanded that the judicial process in the election tribunals should be conducted in conformity with extant provisions to produce just outcomes.
She said, “This points to two critical issues which stakeholders must not lose sight of as the judicial process proceeds – The need for compliance with extant legislations guiding the process, and – The need for an ‘unbiased’ and open judiciary.
“Recognising the above and in line with The Electoral Hub’s commitment to promoting electoral knowledge, accountability, and electoral integrity, we call on all stakeholders to discharge their duties conscientiously and conform with the rule of law.
“The Electoral Hub specifically calls on the judicial panellists, political parties and their candidates, civil society actors and organisations, and the general public to take steps towards ensuring the credibility of the election judicial process.
“Our expectations at The Electoral Hub include the following: Judicial Panel – Adhere to the ethics of the Bench and legal profession, by acting in compliance with guiding principles of the Bench, display neutrality and uphold principles of the rule of law.
“Comply with legal frameworks guiding the election adjudication at all times. Avoid all actions that may be perceived as unfair and biased. Justice should not only be done but also seen to be done.”
The organisation called on political parties and candidates to avoid inciting comments that could heat up the polity, ignite violence and threaten lives and properties, while they should also respect the laws guiding the process and “be willing to accept the outcome of the process.”
Hamman-Obels called on CSOs to engage judicial, political, and electoral stakeholders to ensure compliance with relevant legal frameworks and monitor the process to ensure fairness and openness through sustained advocacy or other best practices.
The CSOs, she advised should also support the process with research and information about best practices, create awareness by disseminating relevant information
and curb misinformation and fake news about the process through fact-checking and sharing correct information.
The statement said, “In conclusion, as the tribunal proceedings continue, we urge the Judges to uphold values of neutrality and fairness.
“We also demand that the Election Tribunal process be made public to ensure transparency and openness as this would enhance fairness and credibility.
“We also urge the media, and other civil society actors to disseminate the right information by deploying fact-checking tools to prevent misinforming the general public.
“Ultimately, the Election Petition Tribunal is not only important for its role in determining the final outcome of the 2023 general election but could also revive public trust in the Nigerian democracy.”