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General News of Monday, 12 September 2022


No fund for 2023 election petition tribunals, A’Court President laments

Appeal Court Appeal Court

President of the Court of Appeal, PCA, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, on Monday, bewailed the unavailability of funds to prosecute the 2023 General Election Petition Tribunals.

Justice Dongban-Mensem, who spoke at the 2022/2023 legal year of the appellate court, warned that failure to release the funds on time could hamper the constitution of various tribunals and courts that will entertain disputes that will arise from the impending general election.

The PCA is statutorily empowered to constitute election petitions tribunals.

According to her; “It is pertinent to state that adequate preparation requires adequate funding. The essential ingredient for the Tribunals to function effectively to maximum capacity is the provision of the much needed funding to provide adequate facilities for the Tribunals across the nation.

“The fund to prosecute the 2023 General Election Petition Tribunals have still not been released.

“This is becoming worrisome as it may impede plans to constitute the various Tribunals and Courts.

“The process of training of Hon. Justices, Tribunal Judges and Registry staff is also on hold pending the release of funds.

“The existing Tribunals have taken up a whole chunk of the very limited resources of the court.

“We appeal to the relevant authorities to ensure that the funds for running of the Tribunals are released urgently”.

Meanwhile, despite the absence of funds, Justice Dongban-Mensem disclosed that in preparation for the general elections, she has received from various Heads of Courts across the federation, nominations of judicial officers that will serve in the Tribunals.

“Also, nominations of staff who will man the Registries of the Tribunals have been received from the various Divisions of the Court.

“The Election Judicial Proceedings Practice Directions, 2022, have been reviewed and signed. It will serve as a guide to all stakeholders in providing an improved and efficient electoral adjudicatory process.

“The usual dispute in each electoral circle had impelled the Court to review the Judicial Electoral Manual in order to bring it in line with the Electoral Act, 2022.

“A 13-man Judicial Electoral Manual Committee was inaugurated on May 18, 2022, to conduct this review.

“With this manual, judges and justices will be greatly aided in the discharge of their duties towards ensuring a smooth running of Tribunals,” she added.

The PCA said the court partnered with some foreign agencies and Civil Society Organizations to provide training and retraining for about 80 Justices, 300 Tribunal Judges and 300 Secretariat Staff.

On the performance of the appellate court in the 2021/2022 legal year, the PCA, revealed that a total number of 34, 037 appeals are currently pending in the 20 Divisions of the court.

Meantime, in his speech at the event, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the Federal Government was determined to improve the remuneration and conditions of service of judicial officers in the country.

“I wish to recall that one of the cardinal issues raised by the President of the Court of Appeal in Her Lordship’s address last year was the issue of the welfare of our meticulous and committed judicial officers.

“The government of the day is not oblivious of this persistent challenge. Amidst our revenue challenges as a nation, coupled with various demand for wage increase, one certain assurance I can make to this noble gathering is that the improvement of the remuneration and conditions of service of our judicial officers is uppermost on the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari, ” Malami stated.

He noted that while the budget of the Judiciary declined from N95billion in 2010 to N68bn in 2014, there was an upward swing in 2015 from N73bn to N120bn in 2022, which he said was the highest in the history of the judiciary.

“The Federal Government under the leadership of President Buhari will not rest on its oars in its quest for increased funding for the judiciary,” the AGF added.

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