The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has described calls for quick determination of the ongoing presidential election petitions mischievous.
Keyamo made this assertion in a statement via his verified Twitter handle on Sunday.
The Minister said it would be impossible to amend laws and rules of court to accommodate such an idea.
Keyamo’s statement comes on the heels of calls by some Nigerians, asking the court to ensure speedy determination of election petitions before it, especially the presidential election.
Some had also argued that May 29 swearing-in should be stopped pending the determination of presidential election petitions.
But Keyamo stated, “Those who think by such a call they are doing the Petitioners any good, do not realise that they are, in fact doing a great harm to the cases of the Petitioners.”
According to him, those calling for a quick determination of election petitions before May 29th under our present laws actually want to destroy the cases of the petitioners.
The statement reads, “Those calling for the determination of the Election Petitions BEFORE the swearing-in ceremonies on MAY 29th under our present electoral laws and Rules of Court and/or procedure are either plainly ignorant or crassly mischievous.
“In future, it is possible to amend our laws and rules of court to accommodate such an idea, but it is clearly IMPOSSIBLE under our present circumstances.
“Those who think by such a call they are doing the Petitioners any good, do not realise that they are, in fact doing a great harm to the cases of the Petitioners.
“It is the Petitioners that need more TIME to prove their cases and not necessarily the defendants. That is why the Petitioners are given 21 days to file and the defendants have 14 days to respond. And the Petitioners have a further 7 days to reply, making a total of 30 days as against the 14 days of the Respondents.
“It follows that in leading evidence in court/Tribunal in support of the Petitions, the Petitioners would also take more time. It is more arduous to prove an Election Petition than to defend it.”
The statement further reads, “If these characters say a single point (let’s say the FCT 25 percent storm-in-a-teacup issue) should be set down for determination immediately, would the Petitioners’ lawyers agree to withdraw and abandon all other issues raised in their Petition and proceed only with that issue?
“Will they take that risk? Ask them privately. They know better. This is because the rules of Election Petitions do not allow Petitioners to prove their cases piecemeal.
“A Petitioner cannot pursue a single point up to the Supreme Court and after losing, return to the Tribunal or Court and say he/she/it wants to now prove other aspects of the case.
“Even that single point alone CANNOT be determined by the Supreme Court BEFORE MAY 29th because of the time given by the rules for parties to file their Notices of Appeal and exchange their briefs.
“It is indeed only the Respondent that can raise a preliminary objection that can determine the Petition in limine (that is, at the threshold). Even at that, the rules allow the Court/Tribunal to take the objection together with the Petition itself and give one judgment at the end in order to save time.
“So, this is a free advice to the advocates of pre-May 29th determination of the Election Petitions: they are doing the cases of their Principals (the Petitioners) great harm.
“They should realise that just as we say ‘justice delayed is justice denied’, we also say ‘justice rushed is justice crushed’.”