The Kaduna State National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election holden in Kaduna on Thursday read out riot act to lawyers and Journalists as the tribunal begins day to day sitttings.
In his address during the official inaugural sitting of the National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Tribunal, Kaduna State, holden in Kaduna , the Tribunal Chairman , Justice A.H.Suleiman said , “It is not in doubt that this Tribunal is a product of the Supreme Law of the country, otherwise called the grundnorm, i.e. 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Section 285(1) & (2) of the said Constitution provides for the establishment of one or more Election Tribunals to be known as the
National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Tribunal.
“It is in view of the above provision and pursuant to the powers conferred
by paragraph 1(3) of the sixth schedule to the Constitution that the appointing authority constituted among others, this National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Tribunal for Kaduna State.
” The Tribunal is made up of the Chairman and two other members and it jurisdiction is as spelt out in section 285 of the Constitution. In nutshell, the Tribunal shall to the exclusion of any other Court or Tribunal have original jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as whether any person has been validly elected as a member of National Assembly; or any person has been validly elected as a member of the House of Assembly of a state.
“The instant Tribunal is constituted to hear petitions arising from the recently held National and Kaduna State Legislative Elections. At the moment, 18 petitions have been filed, ten (10) of which are in respect of the National Assembly elections, while eight (8) are of the Kaduna State House of Assembly elections.
“Election petitions by their nature are sui generis; i.e. in a class of its own. It is therefore obvious that time is of essence. In this regard, we request the cooperation of all, especially the legal practitioners having petition(s) to prosecute or defend before the Tribunal. Counsel should therefore endeavour to remain committed and be up and doing.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Tribunal will not entertain unnecessary delay as the petitions will be treated with utmost urgency and dispatch Counsel are further reminded to avoid the request for unnecessary adjournment.
“On our part as Judicial Officers, we are under an oath to dispense justice without fear or favour, affection or ill-will The Tribunal will afford all parties adequate and equal opportunity within the ambit of the law to present their cases to the best of their ability for adjudication.
“To achieve the noble objective of expeditious dispensation of justice in the enormous petitions before us, the Tribunal shall adopt and seriously adhere to the following:
i) The sitting of the Tribunal will always commence at 9:00am daily and may as well extend to the night .
ii) The sitting will be on day to day basis and may include weekends and public holidays .
iii) There will be short break between the hours of 1:00 and 2:00pm daily and may be decided by the Tribunal .
iv) Absence of parties and/or their Counsel will not stop the proceedings of the Tribunal and where necessary, appropriate provisions of the Rules of Court or Practice Direction (as the case may be) will be invoked against the defaulting party.
“Let it be stressed at this juncture that parties and Counsel are forewarned to desist from engaging in any untoward act that may stifle the administration of justice. In this regard, any attempt to influence the Tribunal, in any way or mode, should be totally avoided as such attempt shall be severely dealt with according to the law.
“We must equally emphasize that this Tribunal shall have zero tolerance for corruption. There should be no behind the door communication by the litigants and/or their Counsel with the Chairman, members and/or support staff of the Tribunal for any reason whatsoever.
“All communications should be in the Open Court. This is in our bid to see that justice is not only done, but also seen to be done.
“Importantly also, the Tribunal expects much from the legal practitioners that may appear before it to prosecute or defend their respective petitions. That is to say, Counsel should endeavour to maintain high
standard of professional conduct and etiquette.
“To the members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, i.e. the Press, there is no doubt that we are partners in progress. We therefore solicit for your utmost co-operation for the good of the society.
“We accordingly implore you to report the proceedings of the Tribunal accurately. You are enjoined to eschew sensational cum inaccurate reports concerning the proceedings of the Tribunal. It is our belief that you all know the consequences of doing the otherwise.”