The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has blamed the President, Court of Appeal, Justice Umar Abdulahi for the delay in the election petition-related cases, saying that the delay could halt the Nigeria democracy.
Speaking at a press briefing addressed by the Oyo State Branch of the NBA during its annual law week on Saturday, the NBA President, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu(SAN) attributed the delay in the judgment of Court of Appeal to over-centralization of power in the Court of Appeal President.
Akeredolu said that the Appeal Court is not attending to the election petitions – related cases as speedily as expected, saying that the delay is affecting the hope of the people in the nation’s judiciary.
While saying that there was no communication gap between lawyers in the matters pending at the Court of Appeal and the presiding judges, the NBA president said that the slow pace the matter were being handled, called for serious concern.
Akeredolu then called on President Umar Yar’adua to put machinery in motion that would vest some of the power currently being wielded by Abdulahi in the hands of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Idris Kutigi.
He said: “The appeal court is not attending to these matters as speedily as we expected them to do.
“They are not doing it and we feel worried. We have expressed our concern over and over.
“The one of Edo that was just heard, its processes were already in court since May, 2008 and it took them till October when we were travelling for the International Bar Association (IBA) Conference before they heard it. That delay is unjustifiable and cannot be defended.
“The one of Oyo State, I am informed by counsel who are involved. I am involved too. Processes had been filed by June 2008 before vacation. What is responsible for that delay from June to October?
“I believe that there is an over-concentration of power in the President of the Court of Appeal. He constitutes the members of the tribunal who hear election cases at the lower court and decides who hear the appeal.
“I think that is over concentration of power. The constitution of members of the panel to hear the appeal, we should look at it under the Electoral Act and look at it properly and see whether it could be vested in the Chief Justice of Nigeria rather than the President of the Court of Appeal.