Election petition panel: CUPP counsels CJN on selection of judges

The opposition parties under the umbrella of “Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), on Thursday, urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Mohammed, to adhere strictly with the age-long order of seniority being used in selecting most senior justices of the Supreme Court to sit on election petition panels in the country.

Addressing a World Press Conference in Abuja , the spokesperson of the Coalition, Ikenga Ugochinyere, declared that the opposition would not support any move to tamper with the age-long order of seniority, which have since 1979, been used in selecting most senior justices in handling the Appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The Coalition Spokesperson, who also accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of pressuring the CJN to accept a handpicked panel to sit on the appeal counselled the ruling party to stop embarking on actions capable of sowing bad blood and discord among the Supreme Court justices.

He strongly warned the ruling party to stay away from the entire process as an interested party so that the Apex Court would be able to carry out its constitutional responsibility without fear or favour.

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According to him, “allies of the ruling party are pushing for a handpicked panel because of the consequences of allowing a fair and neutral adjudication of the appeal.

” We are back on this matter because we have received reinforced intelligence that the age-long tradition of composition of a panel made of up of experienced justices based on their seniority is about to be breached

“This complaint is a painful road we would have avoided for the image of the Supreme Court but knowing the desperation of the people and their hate for decency and order, we cannot keep quiet knowing they regard the people with disdain,” Ugochinyere stated.

While stating that all the justices of the Supreme Court were eminently qualified to sit on the appeal, he warned against the breach of the age-long tradition where most senior justices were made members of the panel.

According to him, “the opposition wants these age-long traditions of composing presidential election dispute panel in order of seniority maintained because we do not trust the altering of the seniority list under the Buhari led APC Federal Government.

“The method the APC government used in clamping down on the judiciary and the circumstance surrounding the installation of a new CJN is the reason our confidence level is low and the only way is to allow this tradition to help instil confidence on all parties and ensure not only the delivery of judgment but also the delivery of justice and for the people to accept and feel that justice has been done.

“A handpicked panel at this tensed period will rob the Supreme Court the confidence, impartiality and trust of the citizens to hear this matter.

“All over the world and even in Africa, it is always the most senior justices that handle such masters.

“Even the Article 3 and Article 6 of the International Criminal Justice Statute/rule, expressly provide for seniority in handling matters. Also at the Nigerian bar and bench, seniority is highly recognized and respected.”