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WHOEVER ALLEGATION IS MADE AGAINST SHOULD BE JOINED IN AN ELECTION PETITION, NOT JUST THE CONTESTANTS

Dictum

I am however of the opinion that the second complaint of 1st respondent against paragraph 129 of the petition, that it also deserves to be struck out for petitioners’ failure to join Hon. Adejoh, Chairman of Olamaboro L.G.A. of Kogi State accused by them of having led thugs at gun point to force Electoral officers in named polling units in Olamaboro L.G.A. of Kogi State to declare concluded elections in the said units cancelled, is well made. The petitioners’ response that not only was no relief claimed by them against Hon. Adejoh, he did not even participate’ in the election neither was he returned so he is not a person contemplated by section 133 of the Electoral Act 2022 to be joined to an election petition, is not a valid response. Section of 133 of the Electoral Act 2022 only deals with the issue of which contestant of an election ought to be joined in an election petition by a co-contestant. It has nothing to do with the issue of joining of third parties against whom allegations of electoral infraction are made by petitioners as in this case. Such persons must be joined to the petition if the court is not to be exposed to the risk of infringing their fundamental right to fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution. It is also of no moment that no relief was claimed against such persons in the petition; what is important is that allegations of electoral malpractice, which will require the court to make findings, including condemnation of their alleged conduct where necessary, are made in the petition. Support for that position can be found in NWANKWO V. YAR’ADUA (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1209) 518 at 583 where Muntaka-Coomassie, J.S.C., after reproducing the provisions of the then newly enacted section 144(2) of the Electoral Act 2006 (in pari materia with section 133(2) of the Electoral Act 2022) and confirming that that provision had done away with the old regime of the Electoral Act 2002 that required petitioners to join all relevant Electoral Officers of INEC that conducted an impugned election, in addition to INEC itself, spoke thus at page 583: “Unless the conduct of a party who is not an agent of the Commission is in question, it will then be necessary to join such party as a necessary party to the petition in order to afford such party a fair hearing.” (Italics mine) As regards the consequence of failure to join such necessary parties on the petition itself, His Lordship again said as follows: “However, where such a party is not made a party, it will not result into the whole petition being struck out, but the particular allegation against such party is liable to be struck out.” That is the fate of paragraph 129 of the petition where allegations of electoral malpractice were made by the Petitioners against Hon. Adejoh yet he was not cited in the petition. Incidentally, this is also one of the main reasons the Supreme Court gave in dismissing the appeal of the petitioners in the Ondo State Governorship case of Eyitayo Jegede & Another v. I.N.E.C. & Ors (2021) LPELR-55481 (SC) where allegations were made by the Petitioners in that case against the then National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the present 3rd Respondent, APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, yet he was not joined to the petition by the Petitioners.

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

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ELECTORAL RESULT DECLARED BY INEC ENJOY PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY

Primarily, the law is well settled that the results declared by INEC (1st Respondent) in an election enjoy a presumption of regularity. In other words, they are prima facie correct. See Section 168(1) of the Evidence Act 2011, recently applied by the Supreme Court in ATUMA V. APC & ORS (2023) LPELR-60352 (SC) where JAURO, JSC held at PP 40-41 as follows: “By virtue of Section 168(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011, presumption of regularity inures in favour of judicial or official acts, including those carried out by INEC. The exact words of the subsection are thus: “When any judicial or official act is shown to have been done in a manner substantially regular, it is presumed that formal requisites for its validity were complied with.” See P.D.P. V.I.N.E.C. (2022) 18 NWLR (PT. 1863) 653, UDOM V. UMANA (NO. 1)(2016) 12 NWLR (PT. 1526) 179. Fortunately for the Appellant and 1st Respondent, it is only a presumption, which implies that it is rebuttable. Any person who questions the validity of an act in favour of which there is a presumption of regularity, has a duty to rebut the presumption with cogent and credible evidence. A flimsy or half-hearted rebuttal will not suffice.”

— 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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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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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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THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF SUI GENERIS NATURE OF ELECTION PETITION

Tobi, J.S.C., in his lead judgment in Buhari v, INEC (2008) LPELR-814 (SC) p. 97 paragraph A-B: “The whole concept of Election Petition being sui generis, in my view, is to project the peculiarity of the reliefs sought, the time element and peculiar procedure adopted for the hearing of the petition and all that.”

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PROPER, DESIRABLE, NECESSARY, PARTIES

Proper parties are those who, though not interested in the Plaintiffs claim, are made parties for some good reasons e.g. where an action is brought to rescind a contract, any person is a proper party to it who was active or concurring in the matters which gave the plaintiff the right to rescind. Desirable those who have an interest or who may be affected by the result. Necessary parties are those who are not only interested in the subject-matter of the proceedings but also who in their absence, the proceedings could not be fairly dealt with. In other words the question to be settled in the action between the existing parties must be a question which cannot be properly settled unless they are parties to the action instituted by the plaintiff.

– Oputa, JSC. Green v. Green (1987)

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