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WHEN DOES A WITHDRAWAL TAKE EFFECT – WHEN LETTER IS DELIVERED TO THE POLITICAL PARTY, NOT INEC

Dictum

It is glaring from the express wordings of Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2022 that the legislative intention is that the withdrawal should take effect upon the nominated candidate personally delivering a written notice of his withdrawal to the political party and not when the political party conveys it to INEC. Section 31 states that what the party conveys to INEC is the withdrawal. The provision gives the party not later than 90 days to the election to convey the withdrawal of its candidate to INEC. Since the election held on 25-2-2022, the political party had up to 24-11-22 to convey the 4th Respondent’s withdrawal to INEC. So, it matters not if it was conveyed in 10-7-2022, 15-7-2022 or any other date, provided it is conveyed not later than 90 days to the election. The date of the conveyance within the prescribed period has no effect on the withdrawal that had already been done. Therefore, the 4th respondent withdrew as the 2nd respondent’s Senatorial candidate for Borno Central Senatorial District on 6-7-2022 when his written letter of withdrawal dated 6-7-2022 was received by his party on 6-7-2022.

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

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DIVISIONS AND FACTIONS IN POLITICAL PARTIES

The mischief which the framers of the Constitution wanted to avoid was carpet-crossing which, from our constitutional history, in the not distant past, had bedevilled the political morality of this country. They had however to allow for a situation where a political party, by reason of internal squabbles, had split into one or more factions. A split or division could arise without any fault of the members of a political party, resulting in a member rightly or wrongly, finding himself in a minority group which may not be big enough, or strong enough, to satisfy the recognition, as a separate political party, of the Federal Electoral Commission. For such a member not to be allowed to join another political party with his faction may be to place him in a position where his right to contest for political office will be lost.

– Aniagolu, J.S.C. FEDECO v. Goni (1983) – SC

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A POLITICAL PARTY CANNOT CHALLENGE ACTIVITIES OF ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY VIS-A-VIS INEC

No matter how pained or disgruntled a political party is with the way and manner another political is conducting or has conducted its affairs concerning its nomination of its candidates for any position, it must keep mum and remain an onlooker, for it lacks the locus standi to challenge such nomination in court. A political party equally lacks the locus standi to challenge the actions of INEC in relation to another political party. Section 285(14)(c) only allows a political party to challenge the decisions and activities of INEC disqualifying its own candidate from participating in an election, or to complain that the provisions of the Electoral Act or any other law have not been complied with in respect of the nomination of the party’s own candidates, timetable for an election, registration of voters and other activities of INEC in respect of preparation for an election. A political party is only vested with locus to file a pre election matter when the aforesaid situations affects it or its own candidates. When the actions of INEC relate to the activities of a political party, no court has the jurisdiction to entertain a suit brought by another political party in that regard.

— A. Jauro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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CANDIDATE MUST BE SPONSORED BY HIS POLITICAL PARTY

It is trite that for a person to qualify as a candidate for a general election, he must not only be a member of a political party but he must have been sponsored for the election by his political party. See the cases of Gwede v. INEC & Ors. (2014) LPELR-23763 (SC); and Al-Hassan & Anor v. Ishaku & Ors. (2016) LPELR-40083.

— M.A.A. Adumein JCA. Yusuf Kabir v. APC, INEC, NNPP (CA/KN/EP/GOV/KAN/34/2023, 17TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 2023)

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IT IS NOT THE BUSINESS OF THE COURT TO NOMINATE PARTIES FOR ELECTION

It is not the business of any Court to select or nominate candidates for any political party for election. The nomination of a candidate to contest an election is the sole responsibility of the political party concerned. The Courts do not have jurisdiction to decide who should be sponsored by a political party as a candidate in an election. See Onuoha v Okafor (1983) 2 SCNLR 244, Dalhatu v Turaki (2003) 15 NWLR (pt 843) 310, Shinkafi & Anor v Yari & Ors (2016) LPELR – 26050 (SC) page 57 paragraphs A – D, Olofu & Ors v Itodo & Anor (2010) 18 NWLR (pt 1225) 545. The above position has been the law and has not changed because issue of selection and/or nomination of a candidate for an election is strictly within the domestic jurisdiction or power of political parties.

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. Uba v. Ozigbo, INEC, PDP (SC.CV/772/2021, October 21, 2021)

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IT IS POLITICAL PARTIES THAT WIN OR LOSE ELECTION, NOT CANDIDATES

It is the political party that participated in the conduct of an election that is the winner or the loser and not the Candidates sponsored by the political parties sometimes, the goodwill of a candidate being sponsored in an election may contribute to the victory of the political party in an election. Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria does not recognize an Independent candidate contesting in our elections.

– Coomassie JSC. Odedo v. INEC (2008)

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THE BEST EVIDENCE OF MEMBERSHIP OF A POLITICAL PARTY IS HIS REGISTER OF MEMBERS

The appellant relied on the case of Buhari v. Obasanjo (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt. 910) 241 at 500-501, where it was held that the register of members of a political party is not the only proof of who is a member of the party. It is true that it was so decided in that case. However, a political party qualifies as “a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name” by virtue of section 77(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022. Being a body corporate, just as a company or body incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, its best evidence of its members is its register of members as mandated by section 77(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022; just as the relevant register of members of a Company under sections 105, 109, 110, and 111 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (as amended) constitutes the best legal evidence of membership of a duly incorporated company, association and partnership.

— M.A.A. Adumein JCA. Yusuf Kabir v. APC, INEC, NNPP (CA/KN/EP/GOV/KAN/34/2023, 17TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 2023)

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