A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF ELECTION PETITIONS UNDER NIGERIAN LAW
This dissertation appraised the effectiveness or otherwise of election petitions under Nigerian law in order to ascertain whether or to the present state of affairs should continue or there is the need to put in place some other measures to ensure better electoral system and dispute resolution mechanism in our electoral process. To achieve this, the thesis adopted an amalgam of doctrinal and empirical research method. Thus, using material derived from both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include the Constitution, Electoral Act, Practice Directives, Court of Appeal Act and Case Laws, while the secondary sources include books, journals, articles, newspapers and internet materials. It was found among others that section 285(6) and (7) of the Constitution which provides 180 days for tribunal to dispose election petitions is in consequence contrary to all principles of fairness and justice most especial as the 180 days include Saturdays and Sundays as well as court vacation and invariably include any period of strike and when a trial is ordered de novo. It was also found that several interlocutory applications are taken within this period, the opposing party would also exercise his right to cross-examine the witnesses; each party can call as many as witnesses as he or she wishes. Then Tribunal must also review the evidence and gave judgment within 180-day limit. The research revealed that it is difficult to see how a party can be given fair hearing in this circumstance. In view of this the research suggested among others that there should be a proviso to section 285(6) and (7) of the Constitution to the effect that, where in the determination of election petitions and appeals, the sittings of the courts and tribunals is prevented by labour strikes, such circumstances should be excluded from the 180 days provided in section 285 of the Constitution.