‘We need to amend the electoral act to provide for electronic voting’
Dr. Paul Chibuike Ananaba (SAN) is a solicitor, advocate, draughtman mediator and arbitrator. He has over 27 years of experience in the profession.
He graduated from the then Imo State University, Okigwe in 1990 with (LL.B Hons) and was called to the Nigerian Bar (B.L) in 1991. He later acquired a Master of Laws (LL.M) in Legislative Draughting in 2003 and a Doctor of Philosophy in Laws (Ph.D) from Babcock University, Ilisan Remo in 2016.
Ananaba is a member, governing council and also the Legal Adviser of Babcock University as well as Clifford University Owerrinta, Nigeria. He has served as an adjunct Professor at Adventist University of Africa, Kenya and Legal Adviser for Institute of Industrial Security and Safety of Nigeria.
He is a member and fellow of several professional institutes and associations locally and internationally and is the currently the chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL). A public speaker, Ananaba has written several books and articles.
The elections have come and gone. The next phase now is the election petition tribunals. A renowned advocate and litigator, Dr. Paul Ananaba (SAN) in this interview with Assistant Editor, Law & Foreign Affairs, JOSEPH ONYEKWERE examines the issues and concludes that electronic voting is the way to go in 2023 general elections.
The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku
Abubakar has approached the tribunal. Curiously, the tribunal ordered
that he should inspect Electoral materials but refused forensic
examination. This is not the first time forensic examination has been
authorized by a tribunal and it helped to determine election petition.
Osun State is a classical example. What has changed now?
It is an ongoing matter, which I won’t more or less like to sit on its appeal. Like you noted, that is the ruling of the presidential elections petition tribunal. Remember that members of the tribunal are court of appeal judges. I would ordinarily have felt that a petitioner would have been given unfettered access to all the materials he wants to look at, including forensic evidence. But that is the decision of that tribunal. I believe that it is appealable. It is only left for Atiku’s legal team to decide on what to do in that matter. My worry is the effect it would have on other lower tribunals. It may now be difficult to obtain orders to carry out forensic examinations, inspections and investigation of electoral materials. It is important to state that where there is an allegation of allocation of votes without balloting, ballot accounting may become necessary. So without forensic examination, ballot accounting may become difficult to determine.
Like you rightly pointed out, lower tribunals may take a cue
from this. What does that portend to justice administration in terms of
Justice is defined according to circumstance. I have made the point that I would have thought that parties should be given unfettered access to electoral materials. As it is now, many parties or applicants may have difficulty proving their cases if it is now clear that forensic evidence is not relevant.