The echoes of the last presidential election still remains as the last may not have been heard of it. Soon after the election the battle shifted tribunal. Now the country awaits with great anticipation the decision of the tribunal.
Domestic and international observers from Europe and USA now and again have expressed disappointments with the election which the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed lacked transparency.
In a recent report released by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), the centre observed that INEC was less transparent in the conduct of 2019 election than it was in 2015 and 2011 respectively.
The Centre described collation and tabulation of results from the polling unit to Ward Collation Centers as chaotic, open to manipulation and in some cases badly disrupted and opaque.
Ward level tabulation and collation is a critical aspect of the election process. How it was handled can increase and decrease the credibility of election. Its disruptions and manipulations give opportunities for opportunistic political parties and individual candidates to dispute election results, hence the litany of cases before the various National and States Election Tribunals.
CDD report also detailed how political thugs and security agencies threatened collation officers and party agents with violence thereby disrupting the collation process in several polling units.
Section 138 of the Electoral Act as amended, provided grounds upon which an election may be questioned: that a person whose election was queried was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election; that the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non compliance with the Act; that the person was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; that the person whose election is questioned submitted to the Commission affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in and for his qualification for the election.
Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution as amended provided that a person shall be qualified for an election to the Office of President if he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; if he has attended the age of 35 years; if he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by the political party and he has been educated up-to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.
Each and every one of these laws requires proper interpretation. Every judge understands his duty to interpret the wordings of the law and to dispense justice in accordance with the letters of the law. Only a mystery will make the court to rule against the constitution. The Tribunals must allow the laws as stipulated to speak as the Judiciary also is on trial.
Faced with similar situation like we do currently, the Kenya Supreme Court did not shy away from the law. The Supreme Court of Kenya created precedent for the entire Africa. The rulings of the Kenya Supreme Court could serve as a useful guide in our circumstances.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Kenya Supreme Court determined the petition on its merit and held as follows: ‘A decision is hereby issued that the elections held on August 8 were not conducted in accordance it the constitution and the applicable law. The results are therefore invalid, null and void. Election is not an event but a process. After considering the totality of the entire evidence, we are satisfied that the elections were not conducted in accordance to the dictates of the constitution and the applicable principles’