Interim government plot: Decide presidential petitions before May 29, Agbakoba tells tribunal


Olisa Agbakoba, a former president of the Nigerian Bar
Association (NBA), says speedy dispensation of presidential election petitions
is a strategy against having an interim government.


The Department of State Services (DSS) on Wednesday said it
had confirmed a plot “by some key players” to install an interim government and
stop Bola Ahmed Tinubu from being inaugurated as president.


Reacting in a statement issued on Thursday, Agbakoba said
the “secret plans” must be rejected by all Nigerians.


Proffering a solution in a fresh statement on Monday, the
senior advocate said there will be no need for an interim government if the
petitions are heard and disposed of before May 29.


 “The tension around
the call for an interim government is that the presidential election petition
may not conclude before the inauguration of a new president on May 29, 2023,”
he said.


“But it’s very possible to conclude these petitions, provided
that the court systems are very proactive.


“Under arbitration matters, procedural orders and or
directions issue peremptorily to resolve sometimes very complex jurisdictional
and procedural issues.


 “The presidential
election tribunals are urged to adapt the procedures very familiar with speedy
conclusion of arbitration matters.”


Agbakoba listed three key issues in the presidential
election petitions which he said are resolvable by the application of
procedural orders and or directions.


The first is the “interpretation of Section 134 of the 1999
Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as to whether securing
25%(Percent) of votes in federal capital territory Abuja is compulsory to be


Secondly, “is a candidate permitted to stand for
presidential or vice presidential election when he is at the same time a
senatorial candidate?


The third point raised by the SAN is the “issue relating to
the qualification of candidates to stand for the presidential election”.


“If the petition were arbitration proceedings, an arbitrator
may issue a procedural order directed to counsel to address all complex
disputes and the arbitral tribunal will deliver what is called a partial final
award,” Agbakoba said.


“In the case of the presidential election tribunal,
including the supreme court, they can also direct procedural orders with very
short timelines given to counsel, to address the complex jurisdictional issues
raised in the petitions and the tribunal/supreme court will then issue final
summary judgment as appropriate.


“We strongly believe that between the tribunal and supreme
court, the petitions can be resolved within seven days from today. This will
cool the temperature in Nigeria on the issue of interim government etc.


 “The speed proposed
here requires a radical departure from our present judicial policy where case
management plays a very limited role in judicial outcomes. Case management is
the spirit and driving force of modern adjudication. Speed of justice is the
mantra that our judiciary must proclaim very loudly. This is needed in the
presidential petition proceedings urgently.”


The timeframe allowed by law for which an election petition
must be heard and judgement delivered is 180 days from the date of the filing
of the petition.


An appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or court
must be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of the delivery of
the judgment of the tribunal.


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