No fewer than nine members of the National Assembly, senators and members of the House of Representatives have been sacked by election petition tribunals in the states.
Those who won and at the tribunals are celebrating while most of those removed have rejected the verdicts and vowed to go to the Court of Appeal to seek redress.
This is even as dozens of judges assigned to handle litigations in the 36 states of the federation are racing against time to beat the deadline set by the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended).
And while the judges are putting their verdicts together for delivery, dozens of legislators that have been inaugurated but have cases in the courts are anxiously awaiting the outcomes, with some saying they have nothing to fear, while others say they are going through emotional and psychological stress in view of the fact that they now have divided attention.
The senators and members said while they had a lot on their tables in the National Assembly, they feared that anything could happen back home at the tribunals.
The Daily Trust reported that the Electoral Act stipulates a 180-day lifespan within which the cases filed in March must be heard and determined, meaning that all the cases must be decided on or before September 16.
The presidential and National Assembly elections were conducted on March 25, 2023.
On Tuesday, September 5, 2023, the panel of justices at the Presidential Petition Tribunal delivered a 12-hour judgement on the cases filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and their candidates challenging the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Experts, who spoke to the newspaper, said politicians required “surgical operation and complete change of mind set” to make Nigeria’s democracy work without needless litigations.
While noting that even though it was good for aggrieved political parties and candidates to go to court and seek redress, they said it was much better to fine tune the electoral process while politicians abided by the rules so that once results were declared, interested parties would be satisfied with the outcomes and wait for another election season to try their luck.
They said this was the only way that citizens would enjoy the dividends of democracy as the political actors would go to work in earnest, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would start planning for future elections, while judges would dedicate their time to other cases that would make life better for it.
It was gathered that even though INEC or the Court of Appeal did not announce the actual number of petitions filed on the National Assembly elections in the aftermath of the 2023 general elections, it has constituted tribunals in all the states to attend to grievances.
Some tribunal officials in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Adamawa, Lagos, Ogun, Imo and Delta said the judges were busy putting their findings together to deliver judgement as stipulated by law.
“The truth is that all the judges across the country are very busy to beat the deadline.
“This is what the law says. They should deliver judgement within 180 days. You can see that the justices sitting on the presidential election tribunal have passed their judgement and the candidates that are not satisfied have moved on to the Supreme Court,” an official in Kano said.
Another official in Jos, Plateau State, while noting that the justices deserved the support of all, said, “Honestly, they are overwhelmed with work; especially litigations on elections. They have been sitting on these cases for long. There are other cases outside politics requiring the attention of our justices.
“And when you go to the lower courts, there are similar cases on pre-election matters. This is not healthy for our democracy because other cases on marriages, inheritance, businesses, among others, are suffering and waiting to be decided.”