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2023: NJC Issues New Guidelines On Election Cases

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The National Judicial Council (NJC) has issued new guidelines on political and election-related cases to heads of courts nationwide.

A statement on Wednesday by its spokesman, Soji Oye, revealed that the Council said the guidelines were part of its efforts to address issues of conflicting orders and judgments.

Oye disclosed that the policy guidelines were discussed during the 98th meeting of the council presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad.

He pointed out that the new guidelines will make recommendations on the filing of election matters, as well as steps to be taken on rulings requiring an appeal.

Oye also said the guidelines will be in use “pending the constitution of a Cross Jurisdiction Litigation Panel (CJLP) to give directions on appropriate litigation for cross-jurisdiction litigation”.

The NJC spokesman, however, revealed that the guidelines take effect from May 11.

The statement reads: “These policy directions shall apply to all suits filed in any court in Nigeria wherein the parties include Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), any political party or its officers, any other person, natural or legal, suing or sued for a declaration in relation to any action taken or to compel or restrain any action or omission with respect to the affairs of a political party or any election into a public office.

“All suits to which these Policy Directions apply shall be filed, received, or entertained only at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in so far as the relief sought, or potential consequential order(s) or declaration(s) may restrain or compel persons or actions beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any one State.

“Where such suits are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, they shall be filed or received at Abuja and assigned by the Chief Judge of the Court.

“All such Suits wherein the cause of action arose in a State and the relief seeks a declaration or to compel or restrain person(s), natural or legal, within that State’s territory, with no consequence outside the State, shall be filed, received, or heard only in that State.

“All Heads of Court shall assign cases or constitute panels with a view to forestalling the incidences of conflicting judgements and rulings.

“Once facts or issues have been ruled upon, no other Court or Panel of Coordinate Jurisdiction shall be assigned or entertain Suits on the same subject matter and parties shall comply or proceed on appeal to the appropriate higher Court.

“Rules of Court shall require sufficient notice and publicity of actions that potentially impact other cases. Rules of Court shall stipulate solemn disclosure duties on litigants filing actions that may impact other actions.

“Heads of Court shall exercise their rulemaking and administrative powers to give effect to these Policy Directions.”

The NJC spokesman also disclosed that the Council recommends the appointment of Forty-nine (49) Heads of Courts and other Judicial Officers.

Oye added that the Council also received Six (6) notifications of retirement and One (1) notification of death from the Federal and State High Courts.