Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Prof. Enefiok Essien, has advocated the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism to handle all electoral disputes in the country.
Speaking at a ceremony organised by the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators of Nigeria in Uyo, the capital, Essien described resorting to court to settle electoral disputes as time-consuming and also unfair, as the winner takes all.
According to him, unless the country develops a new constitutional framework for the resolution of electoral disputes, the problem of calling endless witnesses, exhausting the appeal process and fishing for jurisdictions in election matters would never go away.
He said, “It has become imperative to consider the resolution of some electoral disputes through ADR mechanism, the electoral process in Nigeria is fraught with several challenges.
“Unless the country seeks a new constitutional, statutory and administrative framework for the resolution of election disputes, the problem of calling endless witnesses, legal maneuvers, exhausting the appeal process and fishing for jurisdictions in election matters may continue unabated.
“The resort to court can be time-consuming and the party either wins or loses and the winner will take all. The winning party goes away celebrating and the losing party retires to lick its wounds.
“With time, the losers will start planning counter-strategies to see how to cripple the mandate of the winning party.
“I therefore advocate greater use of ADR in not just electoral process, but in resolution of disputes in our daily lives.”
The professor alleged that only two elections had been acclaimed to be credible in the history of Nigeria.
According to him, the two credible elections are those of June 1993 and April 2015.
Earlier in her welcome address, Chairman of the ICMC in Akwa Ibom, Helen Umana, noted that elections were the hallmark of representative democracy, which should allow the people to make regular inputs in the selection of leaders and policies.
She, however, regretted that the process was fraught with conflicts and tension, which, if not managed well, could destabilise the society.
The event featured the conferment of fellowship awards on Governor Udom Emmanuel; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke; and the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom, Justice Godwin Abraham.