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A CANDIDATE OF A POLITICAL PARTY MUST NOT BE JOINED IN THE PETITION FILED BY THE POLITICAL PARTY

Dictum

The 2nd Respondent/Applicant also contended that the Petition is not properly constituted as the candidate sponsored by the Petitioner has not been joined as a Co-Petitioner in the petition. The short answer to that is that, Section 133(1)(b) of the Electoral Act, 2022 entitles the Petitioner as a political party to institute an election petition. The Applicant has not referred us to any provision of the Electoral Act, or any authority that mandates the political party to file an election petition, only where its candidate has been joined as Co-Petitioner. It is true that, it is proper for the candidate of the party to be so joined but there is no law that compels the political party to join its candidate in the petition. Afterall, the purpose of such joinder is so that the candidate be bound by any judgment or order of the Court or Tribunal but any non-joinder will not invalidate the Petition. This is particularly so when Section 133(1) of the Electoral Act (supra) states that: “An election petition may be presented by one or more of the following persons – (a) a candidate in an election; or (b) a political party which participated in the election.” By the use of the disjunctive word “or”, it means that an Election Petition may be filed by the candidate alone, or the political party alone, or both of them. See Buhari & Anor v. Yusuf & Anor (2003) 14 NWLR (pt. 841) 446 and APC v. PDP & Ors (2015) LPELR – 24349 (CA). The objection on this ground is therefore discountenanced.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. APM v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/04/2023

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A POLITICAL PARTY CANNOT CHALLENGE ACTIVITIES OF ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY VIS-A-VIS INEC

No matter how pained or disgruntled a political party is with the way and manner another political is conducting or has conducted its affairs concerning its nomination of its candidates for any position, it must keep mum and remain an onlooker, for it lacks the locus standi to challenge such nomination in court. A political party equally lacks the locus standi to challenge the actions of INEC in relation to another political party. Section 285(14)(c) only allows a political party to challenge the decisions and activities of INEC disqualifying its own candidate from participating in an election, or to complain that the provisions of the Electoral Act or any other law have not been complied with in respect of the nomination of the party’s own candidates, timetable for an election, registration of voters and other activities of INEC in respect of preparation for an election. A political party is only vested with locus to file a pre election matter when the aforesaid situations affects it or its own candidates. When the actions of INEC relate to the activities of a political party, no court has the jurisdiction to entertain a suit brought by another political party in that regard.

— A. Jauro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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CHALLENGING OR POKING INTO THE AFFAIRS OF ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY

Paragraph (c) of Section 285(14) of the Constitution is however the only provision that empowers a political party to institute a pre-election matter. The Appellant has latched on to the provision and argued strenuously that it vests it with locus standi to institute its case before the trial court. It should be noted that by the use of the words “…decisions or activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission paragraph…” and “…or any other applicable law has not been complied with by the Independent National Electoral Commission…” paragraph (c) only empowers a political party to challenge the actions of INEC. Anything outside this is beyond the scope of the provision of the paragraph. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the applicability of Section 285(14)(c) is not at large. The provision does not make the filing of pre-election matters by political parties an all-comers affair. It is not the purpose of the provision that a floodgate of pre-election litigation be open to political parties who will hide under it to challenge the actions or inactions of rival political parties under the guise of challenging the decisions or activities of INEC. The application of Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution does not extend to a political party poking into the affairs of another. The position of the law has always been that no political party can challenge the nomination of the candidate of another political party. The position did not change with Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution.

— A. Jauro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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WHEN CAN IT BE SAID THAT A POLITICAL PARTY IS SPONSORING A CANDIDATE

I have pondered over the submissions of counsel for appellants on this sub-issue and have not clearly seen the connection between publications of the names of candidate by 3rd respondent and qualification to contest any election to which the publication or non publication relates. I hold the view that publication of names of candidates by 3rd respondent is not evidence of sponsorship by a political party which nominated the candidates. Evidence of nomination and sponsorship of a candidate by a political party lies in the declaration of the winner of the party’s primary election conducted to elect the party’s candidate for the general election in question coupled with the political party forwarding the names of the said elected candidate to the 3rd respondent as its nominated candidate for the election see Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, which enacts thus.

— Onnoghen, JSC. Kubor v. Dickson (2012) – SC.369/2012

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IT IS NOT THE BUSINESS OF THE COURT TO NOMINATE PARTIES FOR ELECTION

It is not the business of any Court to select or nominate candidates for any political party for election. The nomination of a candidate to contest an election is the sole responsibility of the political party concerned. The Courts do not have jurisdiction to decide who should be sponsored by a political party as a candidate in an election. See Onuoha v Okafor (1983) 2 SCNLR 244, Dalhatu v Turaki (2003) 15 NWLR (pt 843) 310, Shinkafi & Anor v Yari & Ors (2016) LPELR – 26050 (SC) page 57 paragraphs A – D, Olofu & Ors v Itodo & Anor (2010) 18 NWLR (pt 1225) 545. The above position has been the law and has not changed because issue of selection and/or nomination of a candidate for an election is strictly within the domestic jurisdiction or power of political parties.

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. Uba v. Ozigbo, INEC, PDP (SC.CV/772/2021, October 21, 2021)

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THE BEST EVIDENCE OF MEMBERSHIP OF A POLITICAL PARTY IS HIS REGISTER OF MEMBERS

The appellant relied on the case of Buhari v. Obasanjo (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt. 910) 241 at 500-501, where it was held that the register of members of a political party is not the only proof of who is a member of the party. It is true that it was so decided in that case. However, a political party qualifies as “a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name” by virtue of section 77(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022. Being a body corporate, just as a company or body incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, its best evidence of its members is its register of members as mandated by section 77(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022; just as the relevant register of members of a Company under sections 105, 109, 110, and 111 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (as amended) constitutes the best legal evidence of membership of a duly incorporated company, association and partnership.

— M.A.A. Adumein JCA. Yusuf Kabir v. APC, INEC, NNPP (CA/KN/EP/GOV/KAN/34/2023, 17TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 2023)

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IT IS ONLY THE NATIONAL WORKING COMMITTEE OF A POLITICAL PARTY THAT IS SADDLED WITH CONDUCTING PRIMARY ELECTION

‘In the instant case, the Appellant herein clearly stated in the affidavit in support of his originating summons that he took part in the primary election held at St. Paul University, Awka in obedience to the judgment of Adeniyi J of the Federal Capital Territory High Court and that the said election was conducted by Sir Chukwudi Umeaba who authored and signed the alleged result of the primary election. He is said to be the leader of the State Executive of the 3rd Respondent. That Appellant emerged winner of that contraption he called party primary election. But from the authorities of this Court cited above, that assemblage at St. Paul University was nothing other than an illegal and an unlawful gathering of party delinquents. The outcome therefore was a sham and a farce. See Emenike v PDP (supra). Not having been conducted by the National Executive Committee 3rd Respondent, the primary election held at St. Paul University on 26th June, 2021 which the Appellant took part is unknown to law and is a nullity. The law is very clear that a State executive of a political party has no vires to conduct party primaries. It is only the National Executive Committee of the party that is recognized as the proper organ of the party saddled with the responsibility of conducting party primaries.’

‘Party primaries are conducted by the National Executive Committee of political parties. Definitely, not by the State executive of the party. The Appellant lacked the locus standi to incept the suit giving birth to this appeal. Counsel ought to advise their clients when requested to file such frivolous suits in Court.’

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. Uba v. Ozigbo, INEC, PDP (SC.CV/772/2021, October 21, 2021)

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