The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed has said that the judiciary is prepared to meet challenges of the pending pre-election matters in courts and the likely disputes which may arise from the forthcoming elections in the country.The judiciary, the CJN added stands ready to hear cases dispassionately and dispense justice decisively without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.Media aide to the CJN, Ahuraka Isah, in a statement said the CJN gave the assurance on Tuesday, when the Deputy Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission, Ms Hannah Roberts and the Legal Analyst, Ms Eirini-Marie Gounari paid him a courtesy visit in his office.Some Justices of the Supreme Court and the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa also joined the CJN to receive the election observers.The CJN said that, ‘’the judiciary as an independent arbiter and interpreter of law has an immeasurable role to play under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) for the stability of democracy in Nigeria. I wish to assure the international community and indeed all Nigerians that the courts are not only ready to carry out these responsibilities, but will do so without been manipulated to compromise the elections even in the face of multiple pre-election matters pending in our various courts at present’’.“No actions aimed at interfering with this constitutional duty will be tolerated. Any judicial officer who falls short of this high expectation will not only be severely disciplined by the National Judicial Council, but will have themselves to blame.’’While giving an update on Election Petition Tribunals, the President of the Court of Appeal said the 255 chairmen and members of the Election Petition Tribunal sworn-in by the CJN since February 2nd, 2015 have since been constituted into 77 panels.The PCA added that the panel chairmen and members have undergone training sessions and they will be posted to their respective states next week where they are expected to serve.“Apart from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal panel, there will be at least two panels per state and one for the Federal Capital Territory, while some will be put on reserve in case there is need to add more in some states. Governorship election will not hold in six states, namely: Kogi, Osun, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Ondo, and Edo and therefore there will no Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Panels in those states’’.He said the judiciary is experiencing challenges in Rivers State where there is no chief judge to take responsibility of the panel posted to the state adding that the Chief Judges of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno States have said that they won’t be able to guarantee the safety of the panel members due to security challenges in their respective states and advised that the panels for their states be made to sit elsewhere.Ms Roberts however said that the European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2015 is headed by Mr Santiago Fisas who doubles as a member of the European Union parliament and that the team is made up of many specialists.“Nigeria is a complex country with several challenges, but our mission is to see that the election conforms with the standard as experienced in many European countries.”
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