Legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, on Monday, said sitting judges should not preside over election petitions tribunals.
The nonagenarian Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said judges who preside over election tribunals should be separate from regular court judges to avoid the halt of cases unrelated to elections.
He suggested that retired judges and respectable SANs should constitute tribunal judges.
The legal luminary, who spoke at an event in Ado-Ekiti to mark his 60th anniversary at the Bar, said the judiciary needs a total overhaul.
“Our judiciary today needs a total overhaul and you cannot do it without a new constitution,” he said. “I have about three cases myself in respect of matters arising from the university.”
“For the past four years, these cases have been on. We have some judges here, the headquarters won’t be able to sit for many months because they are handling what they call election petitions.
“Election petitions should not be handled by sitting judges, they should be decided only by the committee set up consisting of senior advocates and retired judges in that case regular courts would not close down,” Babalola stated.
With the conduct of the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the March 18 governorship and state assemblies polls, many aggrieved contestants filed petitions at tribunals sitting in Abuja and in states, challenging the declarations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Dignitaries at the occasion include former President Olusegun Obasanjo; the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah; the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi; former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Emeka Anyaoku; human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), amongst others.