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

Dictum

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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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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TO PROVE NON-COMPLIANCE MUST ALSO SHOW THAT NON-COMPLIANCE AFFECTED THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION

It is basic that for a petition to succeed on non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act the petitioner must prove not only that there was non-compliance with the provisions of the Act, but also that the non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election. See: Section 139 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended. Put in other words, the petitioner has to prove:- (1) That there was non-compliance. (2) That the non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election. The above have been variously pronounced in the cases of Buhari v. INEC (2008) 19 NWLR (Pt. 1120) 246 at 435; Buhari v. Obasanjo (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 941) 1 at 80; Akinfosile v. Ijose (1960) SCNLR 447; Awolowo v. Shagari (1979) 6-9 SC 51; CPC v. INEC & Ors. (2011) 12 SCNJ 644 at 710.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. Akeredolu v. Mimiko (2013) – SC. 352/2013

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SPONSORSHIP OF A CANDIDATE FOR AN ELECTION IS AN INTERNAL AFFAIR OF THE PARTY

The courts have held in a plethora of cases that the issue of membership of a political party is an internal affair of the political party. It has been consistently held, that it is only the party (in this case, the 3 rd Respondent), that has the prerogative of determining who are its members and the 3 rd Respondent, having sponsored the 2 nd Respondent as its candidate for the Governorship Election in Kano State on the 18 th of March 2023, the 2 nd Respondent has satisfied the requirement of being a member of the 3 rd Respondent as provided for in S134 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act 2022. Consequently, it has been held, that is not within the right of the Petitioner at this stage and after the nomination, sponsorship of the 2 nd Respondent by the 3 rd Respondent as its candidate, to question the 2 nd Respondents membership of the 3 rd Respondent, as it is an internal affair of the party.

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

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PARTY WHO ALLEGES NONCOMPLIANCE HAS THE LEGAL BURDEN

It is trite that a Petitioner who alleges non-compliance with Electoral Act has the legal burden to establish such non-compliance and show how the non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election. See: LADOJA v AJIMOBI (2016) LPELR-40658(SC) at page 29, paras. A E; and SHINKAFI V YARI (2016) LPELR-26050(SC) at pages 19 – 20, para. C.

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

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CANNOT TESTIFY ON POLLING UNIT RESULT IF NOT POLLING UNIT AGENT

This witness is not fit to testify on polling unit result not being a polling unit agent. His testimony on the polling unit is hearsay and shall therefore be discountenanced with … The testimony of PW26 is not reliable in this case. Testimony was to the effect that he was the Party Chairman, and never served as an Agent in any of the polling units or wards but monitored the election. His testimony can at best be described as hearsay and not reliable. We so hold.

— K.M. Akano, J. Edeoga v Mbah (2023) – EPT/EN/GOV/01/2023

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MEANING OF NON-COMPLIANCE WITH REGARDS TO ELECTION

Construing the word “non-compliance” in both provisions with regard to an election has created a situation where an election has been conducted in a manner not in accordance with the provisions of the Act and/or the guidelines prescribed therefrom.

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

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