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Supreme Court Fails To Preside Over 14 Pre-Election Cases

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The Supreme Court has failed to hear about 14 pre-election appeals on the grounds that they were caught by the amendment to Section 285 of the constitution, which took effect from June 7 last year.

Naija News learnt that the amendment to Section 285 of the constitution requires the trial court to determine pre-election cases within 180 days and gives the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court 60 days each to determine such cases.

The section of the constitution also provides that such appeals are filed within 14 days of the delivery of the judgment to be appealed.

On Wednesday, in about 14 different rulings, two panels of the Supreme Court, headed by Ibrahim Mohammed and Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, asked the appellant lawyers, including a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Alex Iziyon, to withdraw their appeals.

The court proceeded to strike out each of the appeals and refrained from making any consequential order. It said since the appeals were caught by the alteration, the court no longer has jurisdiction to act on them or look into them, except striking them out of its list of cases.

According to the court, the effect of the 4th Alteration Act Number 21 was that all pre-election appeals that were not determined within the stipulated 60 days are no longer valid.

The two panels were assigned to conduct “special court sitting” to clear the court’s list of all pending pre-election appeals relating to the 2015 elections that were still pending before the court.

Mr. Mohammed, who headed the first panel, explained that the Supreme Court had in two pre-election appeal’s judgments on January 18, dealt with all issues and questions relating to the 4th Alteration Act and when it became effective.

Mr. Muhammed said the judgments, which were in two appeals, SC/307/2018 and SC/308/2018, formed the position of the court in all pre-election appeals and the question as regards when the amendment took effect.

According to Mr. Mohammed, “the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to hear any pre-election appeal that has stayed unheard at the expiration of the constitutional stipulated 60 days.” Mr. Mohammed added that “the new law, being a procedural law, assumes immediate effect.”

On his own position as the head of the second panel, Mr. Rhodes-Vivour also reiterated that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the appeals.

He added that “We do not have the power to pronounce on what happens at the lower courts since we lacked the jurisdiction to hear your appeal.”

Naija News also learnt that almost all lawyers to the appellants in the appeals expressed discomfort about the court’s position.

The report also stated that they all also said they have not read the court’s judgments in SC/307/2018 and SC/308/2028, which the Supreme Court said contains its position and the current position of the law on the issue.

Source: Naija News

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