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PROVING NON-COMPLIANCE IN AN ELECTION

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Any Petitioner who complains that the result as declared is either wrong or not in compliance with the Electoral Act has the onus of proving the contrary: see NYESOM V. PETERSIDE (2016) LPELR-40036 (SC). This case was relied upon by the Supreme Court in the case of ANDREW & ANOR V. INEC (2017) LPELR 48518 (SC) where the Supreme Court held per Onnoghen, J.S.C. (as he then was) as follows: “…Secondly, one of the main planks on which the petition is based is non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). For one to succeed on that ground, it is now settled law that where a petitioner alleges non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, he has the onus of presenting credible evidence from eye witnesses at the various polling units who can testify directly in proof of the alleged non-compliance See Buhari v. Obasanjo (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 941) 1 at 315 316: Buhari v. INEC (2008) 18 NWLR (Pt.1120) 246 at 391 392: Okereke v. Umahi (2016) 11 NWLR (Pt.1524) 438 at 473. Nyesom v. Peterside (2016) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1512) 452, etc.”

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

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SECTION 177 & 182 IS THE RELEVANT PROVISION FOR QUALIFICATION TO CONTEST AS GOVERNOR

Before rounding off this matter there can be no doubt that the qualification or non-qualification of a candidate for election purposes as here is within the purview of sections 177 and 182 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and not Section 34 of the Electoral Act as failure to comply with the provisions of section 34 (supra) cannot in my view succeed in disqualifying a candidate properly so sponsored by this political party. Howbeit, once a sponsored candidate has satisfied the provisions sections 177 and 182 (supra) he is qualified to stand election for the office of Governor. The 1st respondent is therefore qualified to stand election for the office of Governor for Bayelsa State having so qualified under the aforesaid provisions of the amended constitution. And I so hold.

— C.M. Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC. Kubor v. Dickson (2012) – SC.369/2012

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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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ONLY POLLING UNIT AGENT CAN GIVE TESTIMONY OF WHAT TRANSPIRED IN THE POLLING UNIT

In PDP & ANOR V INEC & ORS (2019) LPELR-48101(CA), this Court Per Agim, JCA (as he then was) held that it is only a Polling Unit agent or a person who was present at a Polling Unit during polls that can give admissible evidence of what transpired during the poll in that unit. See also GOYOL & ANOR V. INEC & ORS (2012) 11 NWLR (PT. 1311) 207, 218 and BUHARI V. INEC & ORS (PT.1120) 246, 424 … Under our law, specifically in Section 43 of the Electoral Act, 2022, Polling Agents are permitted to be appointed by Political Parties for each Polling Unit and collation centre. The wisdom in this is for each of the political parties involved in an election to be represented by its own agents. The duties of an agent are to represent the interest of his/her principal. Having regard to the fact that no mortal man can be in all the places at the same time, the law allows political parties to have their agents at all polling units and collation centres. It is therefore not anticipated by the law for any political party to appoint an octopus agent with his tentacles in all the polling units and collation centres. This is humanly not practicable. When, therefore, evidence is required to prove what happened in any polling unit or a collation centre, it is only the agent who witnessed the anomaly or the malfeasance that can legally and credibly testify. See BUHARI V. OBASANJO (SUPRA); OKE & ANOR V. MIMIKO (SUPRA) AND ANDREW V. PDP (SUPRA).

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

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

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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PRESIDING OFFICER OF A POLLING UNIT IS NOT MANDATED TO UPLOAD RESULT TO INEC DATABASE

There is no part of the Electoral Act or the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 that requires that the Presiding Officer of the election in a Polling unit transmit the particulars or number of accredited voters recorded by the BVAS to the INEC data base or anywhere. This is obvious from all the provisions reproduced above. Equally, there is no part of the Electoral Act and INEC Regulations and Guidelines that require that election result of a polling unit should on the spot during the poll be transmitted to the INEC National Election Register or data base. Rather, the Regulations provide for the BVAS to be used to scan the completed result in Form EC8A and transmit or upload the scanned copy of the polling unit result to the Collation System and INEC Result viewing Portal (IReV).

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

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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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