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DESPITE ELECTIONS BEING SUI GENERIS, THEY ARE GOVERNED BY THE EVIDENCE ACT

Dictum

It is important to note here that although Election petitions are sui generis, they are governed by the Evidence Act. See BUHARI V. OBASANJO (2005) 2 NWLR (PT. 910) 241; APC V PDP & ORS (2015) LPELR-24587(SC). — H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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INEC RESULTS VIEWING PORTAL IS NOT A COLLATION SYSTEM

From the above functions of the BVAS, it is clear to me that, apart from using the BVAS to scan the physical copy of the polling unit result and upload same to the Result Viewing Portal (iReV), there is nothing in the Regulations to show that the BVAS was meant to be used to electronically transmit or transfer the results of the Polling Unit direct to the collation system. It should be noted that INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV) is not a collation system. The Supreme Court in OYETOLA V INEC (2023) LPELR-60392(SC) has explained the difference between the Collation System and the IReV. In that case, Agim, JSC held as follows: “As their names depict, the Collation System and the INEC Result Viewing Portal are part of the election process and play particular roles in that process. The Collation System is made of the centres where results are collated at various stages of the election. So the polling units results transmitted to the collation system provides the relevant collation officer the means to verify a polling unit result as the need arises for the purpose of collation. The results transmitted to the Result Viewing Portal is to give the public at large the opportunity to view the polling unit results on the election day.”

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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NONCOMPLIANCE MUST AFFECT THE RESULT OF THE ELECTION

In Akinfosile v Ijose (1960) 5 FSC 192, one of the earliest cases, if not the earliest, it was held that the onus is on the petitioner to prove not only that there was substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, but also that such non-compliance affected the result of the election. The decision was followed in the case of Kudu v Aliyu (1992) 3 NWLR (Part 231) 598

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EVIDENCE REQUIRED FO PROVE VOTES ALLOWED WITHOUT ACCREDITATION

It is glaring from the above reproduced provisions of the Electoral Act and the INEC Regulations and Guidelines that the evidence required to prove that voting was allowed without accreditation or that there was improper accreditation are the Register of Voters, BVAS and the Polling Unit result in Form EC8A and that the evidence required to prove that there was over voting are the record of accredited voters in the BVAS and the Polling Unit result in Form EC8A.

— E.A. Agim, JSC. Oyetola v INEC & Ors. (2022) – SC/CV/508/2023

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ELECTION ARE SUI GENERIS

It is well settled that election matter are sui generis with a special character of their own, quite different from ordinary civil or criminal proceedings. They are governed by their own statutory provisions regulating their practice and procedure. See Hassan v. Aliyu (2010) All FWLR (Pt. 539) 1007, (2010) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1223 ) 547; Ehuwa v. OSIEC (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 298) 1299, (2006) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1012) 544.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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PETITIONER HAS BURDEN TO PROVE NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE ELECTORAL ACT

In the instant case, it is fundamental to point out that, from the pleadings, the allegation of non-compliance is generated by the Petitioners. Under Sections 134(1) and 135 of the Electoral Act, the level of proof required for the success of the Petition is doubled. There must be proof of non-compliance and the further proof that the non compliance affected substantially the result of the election. In the face of such an allegation of non-compliance, the court is enjoined by the law not to invalidate an election if it appears that the election was conducted substantially in accordance with the principles of the Electoral Act. All said and done, the Petitioners have the primary burden of proving that there was non-compliance and that the non-compliance affects substantially the result of the election before the burden can shift to the Respondents to establish that there was no substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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IMPORTANCE OF AUTHENTIC REGISTER OF VOTERS

Again, let me pause here to observe that the importance of an authentic Register of voters for an open and transparent election process cannot be underestimated. Not only that the candidate who intends to contest in a particular election is required to be a registered voter as per the Register of voters, also a person who is minded to cast his vote in an election must be a Registered Voter as per the register of voters to be enabled to cast his vote in an election.

— C.M. Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC. Akeredolu v. Mimiko (2013) – SC. 352/2013

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