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ELECTION PETITION SHOULD STATE THE DATE OF THE ELECTION, RETURNED WINNER, AND RAW FIGURES

Dictum

As it is, the sub-paragraph provides for three requirements: (a) That the election was held. In this respect, the petitioner is expected to depose to the fact that the election was held and the date on which it was held. (b) The scores of the candidates who contested the election. Here, the petitioner is under a legal duty to indicate the official scores of INEC and not what he thinks or thought should be the scores. He can reserve what he thinks or thought should be the scores to any subsequent paragraph or paragraphs in the petition. All that paragraph 5(1) (c) requires is the raw official figures of INEC. (c) The person returned as the winner of the election. Again, all that the petitioner is expected to state is the person officially declared by INEC as the winner of the election. In other words, paragraph 5(1) (c) enjoins the petitioner to name the candidate who won the election as declared by INEC. Again, he can contest the result of INEC in any subsequent paragraph or paragraphs in the petition to the effect that he was in law the winner of the election.

— Niki Tobi, JCA. Nnamdi Eriobuna & Ors. V. Ikechukwu Obiorah (CA/E/77/99, 24 May 1999)

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WHERE A PERSON WHO ATTAINED THE HIGHEST VOTE IS DECLARED NULL, THE SECOND HIGHEST WITH VOTES IS TO BE DECLARED THE WINNER

By Section 136 (2) of the Electoral Act 2022, it is provided thus: “Where an Election Tribunal or Court nullifies an election on the grounds that person who obtained the highest votes at the election was not qualified to contest the election, the Election Tribunal or Court shall declare the person who scored the second highest number of valid votes cast at the election who satisfied the requirement of the Constitution and the Act as dully elected.” In law, once an Election Petition succeeds under Section 134 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, the only consequential order for the Election Tribunal or Court, where the Election Tribunal fails to do so, is an order declaring and returning the candidate with the second highest score of lawful votes as the winner of the said election. Indeed, neither the Election Tribunal nor this Court, has any discretion in this matter nor is it dependent on the reliefs claimed or not claimed by the Petitioner.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Okeke, PDP v. Nwachukwu, Labour Party, INEC (CA/ABJ/EP/IM/HR/86/2023, November 04, 2023)

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HOW TO PROVE FALSIFICATION OF AN ELECTION RESULT

In order to establish falsification of election result, the Petitioner must produce in evidence two sets of results; one genuine and the other false. See: KAKIH v PDP & ORS (2014) LPELR-23277(SC) at pages 51-52, paras. C-C; and NWOBODO v ONOH (1984) LPELR-2120(SC). Indeed, in ADEWALE v OLAIFA (2012) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1330) 478 at 516, this Court held that: “To prove falsification of results of an election, two sets of results one genuine and the other false must be put in evidence by the party making the accusation. After putting in evidence the two sets of results, a witness or witnesses conversant with the entries made in the result sheets must be called by the party making the accusation of falsification or forgery of results of the election to prove from the electoral documents containing the results of the election how the results of the election were falsified or made up.”

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

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FRESH PRIMARY ELECTION IS NOT NEEDED FOR SUBSTITUTED VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

By the proviso thereto, the political party affected, is enjoined to conduct a fresh primary election for the purpose of producing a new or fresh candidate to submit to the Electoral Commission. The grouse of the Petitioner here is that, the 5th Respondent withdrew his nomination as Vice-Presidential candidate of 2nd Respondent but the 2nd Respondent did not conduct another primary election for the purpose of producing a new Vice-Presidential candidate within the 14 days prescribed by Section 33 of the Electoral Act. It should be remembered that by Section 142(1) of the 1999 Constitution, a Presidential candidate for election to the office of President has the sole discretion, authority or power of nominating his associate who shall run with him in the election as Vice-President. The choice or nomination of a Vice-Presidential candidate is, not the product of any primary election. Therefore, in my view, the requirement to conduct a fresh primary election does not apply to the nomination of a Vice-Presidential candidate. Thus, my Lord Augie, JSC highlighted the point in his contributory judgment in PDP v. INEC & 3 Ors (Exhibit X1) as follows: “No; the fourth Respondent was not required to buy any nomination Form. He was the second Respondent (APC’s) candidate at the election into the office of Senator representing Borno Central Senatorial District. But before the election could hold, he was nominated as the third Respondent’s associate, who is to occupy the office of Vice President. The fourth Respondent did not buy a nomination Form for the said office, and most importantly, did not contest any primary election in order to emerge as APC’s Vice-Presidential candidate.”

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

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TECHNICALITIES IN ELECTION PETITIONS – IT NEVER SOLVES BASIC ISSUES IN CONTROVERSIES

It is now trite law that election petitions are sui generis that is, that they are in class of their own and are governed by different rules. An election petition is by nature a very peculiar proceeding which distinguishes it from an ordinary civil proceeding. See Abubakar v. Yar’adua (2008) 19 NWLR (Pt 1120) 1. In Nwole v. Iwuagwu (2004) 15 NWLR (Pt 895) 61 the Court, held thus: “The courts have often harped on the need to do substantial justice in most cases without dwelling too much on technicalities … in all election matters, the use of technicalities should be avoided, as technicalities merely help to shut the opponent out. It never resolves basic issues in controversy. Once it is agreed that election petitions are in a class of their own, the handling of the matter too must take a form devoid of legal technicalities that tend to leave the litigants more confused. Boldness of a high degree is required of the electoral tribunal, which must never be seen to shy away from obvious grave allegations.”

— J.S. Abiriyi, JCA. Aregbesola v Omisore (2014) – CA/AK/EPT/GOV/05/237/2014

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RESULT ANNOUNCED BY INEC IS PRESUMED TO BE CORRECT

The law is trite that the results declared by INEC enjoy a presumption of regularity. In other words, they are prima facie correct. The onus is on the petitioner to prove the contrary. See Buhari v. Obasanjo (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 941) 1; Awolowo v. Shagari (1979 ) 6 – 9 SC 51; Akinfosile v. Ijose (1960) SCNLR 447, (1960) WNLR 160.

— 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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