In the course of this study and sequel to our assessment of the judgments of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, the following observations were made:
1. There is a structural defect which runs through the judgment of Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in some States in Nigeria and these have been responsible for the overruling of same by the Court of Appeal.
2. Appeals are always the outcome of almost (if not all) judgment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal some States in Nigeria.
3. We observed form the judgments of the Governorship Election Petition in Nigeria that, there is little or no punishment giving to the defaulting party or parties even when an allegation of crime by the aggrieved party has been proved beyond reasonable double.
4. The composition of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal is not expressly clear, owing to the provisions in the 1999 Constitution1 and the Electoral Act.
5. It is also observed with dismay that inadequate sanction of electoral offenders has made the possibility of conducting a free and for election in Nigeria a forlorn hope.
6. The issue of electoral violence is global and progressive. It occurs in every part of the world. However, it appears, the Nigeria context is on the high side2.
7. From the judgments of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, it is observed that Election Tribunals in Nigeria Lack the request jurisdiction to hear and entertain pre-election matter.3
8. It is further observed that the ordinary Courts lack the jurisdiction to entertain electoral disputes arising form the conduct of any election in Nigeria.4
9. We also observed that the judgments of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in some State reflect the spirit of democracy in Nigeria5
10. Finally, it is observed that some of the judgements of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in some States in Nigeria was arrived in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral and other rules and regulations in judgments delivery while others were not.
Electoral violence is universal and global and worst in Nigeria, yet, it does not mean that it is an indelible and inevitable part of human condition. Through human determinations, ingenuity and positivity of action, electoral violence can be controlled if not totally eliminated in Nigeria and indeed other countries and there will be no need of challenging the outcome of such election in Court or Tribunal as the case may be.
From the forgoing, we have decided to make the following recommendations which if religiously the future of the victims of Electoral violence and irregularities and also help the Court or Tribunal in delivering its judgment in Nigeria.
1. There should be an effective electoral violence regime in Nigeria by making and articulating a coherent and comprehensive judgment by the Governorship Election petition Tribunal to project the aggrieved party or parties adequately.
2. The judgments of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal should be well articulate to avoid too much appeal to the Court above. Even though the parties cannot be satisfied at the same time no matter how sound the judgment is.
3. Appropriate sanction should provided, especially where there is an allegation of crime which has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
4. Understanding the context of Election so as to be able to employ inventions effectively. Nigeria is a multifarious nation and as such the circumstance of occurrences the nature and social acceptability of electoral violence should identified and understood before making decisions and policies.
5. Monitoring and elimination of certain factors that trigger of Electoral violence. For instance, government and collaborators should be mindful of such individual and family factors.
6. There should be a clear cut provision in the Constitution or the Electoral Act as to what constitute the quorum of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria.
7. The learned members of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal should ensure that their judgments reflect the spirit of democracy all in the States of the Federation
8. To achieve free and fair election, the judgements of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal will not only be with respect to nullification of the election or the removal of the offending party but also should punish the offender where there is allegation of crime which has been proved against him.
9. Election Tribunals should also have the power to entertain pre-election matters. This is so because; justice will be attained quicker and easy as well as in time.
10. Finally, the learned members of the Tribunal should ensure adequate compliance with the Constitution and Electoral Act in delivering their judgements to avoid unnecessary appeal.
There is no doubt that a wholistic and comprehensive discussion on the judgments of the Governorship Election Tribunal in Nigeria will keep one’s ink flowing till the coming of Christ6. We have however touched the essential areas of the law that need to be tinkered and reviewed as far as this area this concerned.
It is clear from the foregoing expose that electoral violence is the after math of every election in Nigeria, the Governorship election inclusive7. Some of these irregularities form the conduct of the Governorship election usually end up in the Court or Tribunal which normally result in diverse judgment by the Tribunals in several States in Nigeria. A wholesome appraisal of the judgment of the Governorship Election Petition in all the States in Nigeria is not considered in this study for the purpose clarity. Accordingly, some contentions and judicially challenged gubernatorial elections within the period the election was held were appraised in the selected States.
From the judgments of the Governorship Election Tribunal in the selected States, it is discovered that some of the Tribunal have lived up to its expectations while other have not. This is as a result of inconsistency in the judgments even when it relates to the interpretation and application of the provision of the Electoral Act. This may be as a result of incompetence of the learned members of the Tribunal or on the account of bribery and corruption which is prevalent in this country.
It is however, our view that the interest of the aggrieved parties or victims of electoral irregularities should be adequately protected by the Governorship Election petition Tribunals in their judgments. This is because what leads to electoral violence sometimes is conflict of interest. What is required is balancing of interest. According to Roscoe pound, the object of the law is to adjust relations and other conduct and activities of men in their endeavour to satisfy their needs or demands so as to enable satisfaction of as much of the whole scheme of demands with least friction of waste.
We strongly believe that is the right people are put in right position in Nigeria, the issue of electoral violence will be radically minimized and there not be need for Court action. The recent fight against electoral violence in Nigeria is equally commendable. Efforts should be intensified on the fight against electoral malpractices in Nigeria because the victims of Electoral practices need protections and the time is now.
1 See section 285(4) and items 2(1) &(2) of the sixth schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( as amended).
2 This is why all most every result of an election is challenged in Court or Tribunal in Nigeria
3 PDPV ONWE (Supra)
4 This is because Election Tribunals are specifically set up for that purpose
5 See Edo State & Anambara State
6 Unless the issue is properly addressed in Nigeria. See the 1999. 2003, 2007 and of course, the 2011 election in Nigeria.
7 see the States reviewed in this work for a better understanding.