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DOUBLE NOMINATION IS A PRE-ELECTION MATTER; THE BASIS OF QUALIFICATION/DISQUALIFICATION

Dictum

Considering the facts pleaded above, it is clear that, the claim of disqualification or non-qualification of the 3rd Respondent is centred solely on the invalid or double nomination of the 4th Respondent. However, it is the settled law that, the issue of nomination of a candidate at an election is a pre-election matter. Therefore, the issue of qualification or disqualification can only be ventilated on the grounds enumerated in Sections 131 or 137 of the Constitution … It therefore means that, the conditions of qualification or disqualifica are those prescribed under Sections 131 and 137, in case of persons contesting for Presidential Office. That means that, where it is alleged in an election petition, that a person is or was not qualified to contest election to the office of President of Nigeria, as stipulated in Section 134(1)(a) of the Electoral Act, 2022, it is Sections 131 and 137 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that are applicable. See PDP v. INEC (2014) 17 NWLR (pt.1437) 525; Kakih v. PDP (2014) 15 NWLR (pt. 1430) 424-425, Ucha v. Onwe (2011) 4 NWLR (pt. 1237) 386 at 427 and Captain Idris Ichaila Wada & Or v. Yahaya Bello & Ors (2016) LPELR 41263 (CA). Thus, where election has been conducted and result declared, such election cannot be questioned on grounds of qualification save under Sections 131 and 137 of the Constitution, in the case of a Presidential election. This postulation is supported by Section 134(3) of the Electoral Act where it is stipulated that: “With respect to Subsection 1(a), a person is deemed to be qualified for an elective office and his election shall not be questioned on grounds of qualification if, with respect to the particular election in question, he meets the applicable requirements of Sections 65, 106, 131 or 177 of the Constitution and he is not, as may be applicable, in breach of Sections 66, 107, 137 or 182 of the Constitution.” As stated earlier, the applicable provisions are Sections 131 and 137 of the Constitution. It is clear from the plenitude of the pleadings in this petition, that the facts grounding the Petitioner’s claim of disqualification or non-qualification of the 3rd and 4th Respondents is hinged on double and invalid nomination of the 4th Respondent. I had pointed out earlier in the course of this Ruling that, the issue of qualification or disqualification of a candidate at an election is strictly a requirement of the Constitution. It is held by the Supreme Court in Alhassan & Anor v. Ishaku & Ors (2016) LPELR 40083 (SC) That: “…, by virtue of the provisions of Section 138(1)(a) of the Electoral Act, a Tribunal’s power to decide whether a person is qualified to contest an election is restricted to establishing the requirements of Section 177 and 182 of the Constitution against the adverse party. An Election Tribunal has no jurisdiction to inquire into the primaries of a political party.”

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

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PROCESSES THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED FOR A SUCCESSFUL ELECTION

Let me underline here that in the conduct of an election, certain processes must have been walked over to conclude and confirm that the election was conclusive. The steps outlined by the law must not be broken. These steps are: (a) Accreditation (b) Conduct of poils (c) Counting of votes (d) Collation and announcement of results (e) Signing of result forms (f) Publication of results.

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

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ELECTION RIGGING REFERS TO

Basically, election rigging refers to electoral malpractices which are palpable illegalities such as over voting, disruption of election, emergency declaration, violence, non-conduct of election, disenfranchisement of voters, voters resistance to the use of BVAS or BVAS by pass and so on, which no doubt will substantially affect the result of any election in any civilized jurisdiction and therefore translate to non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

— A. Osadebay, J. APC v INEC & Ors. (EPT/KN/GOV/01/2023, 20th Day of September, 2023)

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INEC COLLATION SYSTEM VERSUS THE INEC RESULT VIEWING PORTAL

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. It is clear from the provisions of Regulation 38(i) and (ii) that the Collation System and Result Viewing Portal are different from the National Electronic Register of Election Results. The Collation System and Result Viewing Portal are operational during the election as part of the process, the National Electronic Register of Election Results is a post election record and is not part of the election process.

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

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RATIONALE BEHIND WHY A GOVERNOR IS NOT IMMUNED FROM ELECTION PETITION

I am also of the view that the appeal can be allowed on the main issue of immunity of the governor under the provisions of section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. The issue can be resolved by a simple question as to whether a person declared and sworn-in as the governor elect can be sued by appropriate party to challenge the declaration. By law the answer must be in the positive. If the said person is said to be immuned under the section the resultant effect is that once a person is declared and sworn – in as governor elect that ends the matter, no one can complain or take any legal action even if the person conducted any gross election malpractice. This will encourage gross wrongful and illegal activities among the parties contesting for the position. This would undoubtedly negate the necessary intendment of our constitution and would destroy the democracy itself. In election petition where the status of the governor is being challenged, as in this, then the said immunity is also questioned. He has no immunity against being sued and consequently he cannot be immuned from being subpoened. It must be made clear that the provisions of section 308 of the Constitution are applicable to ordinary civil proceedings as in the case of Tinubu v. I.M.B. Securities Limited (supra) and criminal proceedings and not in election related matter as in Obih v. Mbakwe (supra) and our present case. In my judgment the appeal is to be allowed on this issue. It is allowed with an order that the matter be remitted for fresh trial by a tribunal of different membership.

— Ja’ Afaru Mika’ilu, J.C.A. AD v. Fayose (2004) – CA/IL/EP/GOV/1/2004

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GROUND TO PROVE OVER VOTING

The law is well settled that in order to prove over-voting, the petitioner must do the following: (i) tender the voters register; (ii) tender the statement of results in appropriate forms which would show the number of registered accredited voters and number of actual votes; (iii) relate each of the documents to the specific area of his case in respect of which the documents are tendered; and (iv) show that the figure representing the over-voting if removed would result in victory for the petitioner. See Haruna v. Modibbo (2004) All FWLR (Pt. 238) 740, (2004 ) 16 NWLR (Pt. 900) 487;Kalgo v. Kalgo (1999) 6 NWLR (Pt. 608 ) 639; Audu v. INEC (No. 2) (2010) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1212) 456; Shinkafi v. Yari (unreported) SC.907/2015 delivered on 8/1/2016; Yahaya v. Dankwambo (unreported) SC.979/2015 delivered on 25/1/2016.

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

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ANY ACTION RELATING TO THE PROCESS OF AN ELECTION FALLS WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE ELECTION TRIBUNAL

Ohakim v Agbaso (2011) ALL PWLR (Pt. 553) 1806 at 1846 per Onnoghen JSC where he state as follows: “it is necessary that everything connected will the process leading to the election including the actual election and its aftermath come within the jurisdiction of election tribunal. That will stem the tide of parties trying to pursue election related matters in parallel courts which will only result in conclusion, a gleam of which can be seen in the Sokoto State Gubernatorial election petition saga, in any event, it is my considered view that since the action concerned on election conducted on 14th April 2007 by the appropriate authority whether inchoate or not, the proper court with jurisdiction to entertain any action arising therefrom or relating thereto is the relevant election tribunal established by the Constitution of this country as the matter is not a pre-election matter neither can it be accommodated under the procedure of judicial review. Section 164 of the Electoral Act 2006 defines election as meaning any election held under this Act and includes a referendum. It is therefore beyond doubt that what took place on 4th April, 2007 in Imo State in particular was an election and as such any action relating to the processes leading thereto including the actual conduct of the event or its cancellation fall within the jurisdiction of the election tribunal by operation of law and no other court or tribunal is clothed with jurisdiction to entertain it in any guise.”

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