* Threatens sack, prosecution of erring members
The President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Monica Dongban-mensem, on Monday warned that the court would not hesitate to sack any staff found to be compromising processes of petitions against the forthcoming general election.
Justice Dongban-mensem stressed that unlike in the past when staff who were found to have compromised were removed and transferred to other division, anyone found culpable would be sacked by the Federal Judicial Service Commission and prosecuted accordingly.
She was speaking while declaring open a two-day capacity building for Election Petition Tribunal Secretariat.
While stating that the tribunals were established for the purposes of determining disputes arising from the conduct of elections into various elective positions, she urged staff of the tribunals to live above board and avoid anything that could bring the activities of the court to questioning or disrepute.
“It is part of your obligation to discharge your duties with utmost good faith and not be carried away by little advances. Your integrity and that of the tribunal and its members are in the public searchlight. You must therefore ensure you are not used as weapons to truncate the process,” she said.
The PCA similarly advised the staff not see their task as an opportunity to make money to enrich themselves but rather go there to build “your name and your future as it is literally said that a good name is better than silver and gold”, adding that: “The court will not hesitate to deal with anyone found wanting in this regard.”
She equally harped on the need for the members to constantly relate with the Election Petition Tribunal Unit at the headquarters at intervals and report matters likely to forestall breaches in communication.
“For the sake of emphasis, it is important to state that petitions before the tribunals are time bound. It is therefore your utmost responsibility to ensure processes are properly and timely filed once they are brought to the registry to forestall administrative injustice to the parties before such matters are adjudicated.
“You must count yourselves worthy to have been chosen to perform in this regard. Our choice is premised on trust, competence and confidence the court has in you which I pray you do not erode while discharging your duties at the tribunal.
“Let me once again mention that the work ahead is enormous and you must indeed brace up for the challenges ahead,” she said.
While noting that the training consists of scintillating topical issues that will in no small measure prepare them for their assignment, Dongban-mensem urged participants to pay rapt attention to every detail so as to be well equipped and informed of their roles as tribunal secretaries and support staff as elaborated in the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) and the Election Judicial Proceedings Practice Direction, 2022.
According to her, “This training will serve as a forum for you to share experiences with one another wherein guidance will be provided and strategies devised for the strengthening of the tribunals.
“It is important for you to familiarize yourselves with the provisions of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Practice Direction as it affects your performance at the registry.”
The theme of the two-day workshop is ‘Challenges Arising from Election Petition Tribunal and the Way Forward’.