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WITNESS DEPOSITION NOT FILED BY A WITNESS AS AT THE TIME OF FILING THE PETITION WILL NOT BE COUNTENANCED

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Peoples’ Democratic Party v. Chibuzor Okogbuo & Ors (2019) LPELR-48989 (CA) at p.24-25, when it said (per Orji-Abadua, JCA) that: “What is deducible is that Witness Deposition filed by a witness not listed in the Petition cannot be countenanced by the Court or Tribunal after the expiration of the time prescribed for the filing of the Petition. It was stressed by this court therein that to allow a Petitioner to file an additional witness statement at any stage of the Election proceedings would destroy the regulated environment that must exist to ensure that both parties to the petition are expeditiously heard and the Petition determined within 180 days from the date of the Petition. This court observed that such an indulgence would remove the control of the pace of the proceedings from the control of the Constitution, the Electoral Act and the First Schedule to the Electoral Act and leave it at the whim of the parties and open the floodgate for all kinds of abuses of the judicial process.”

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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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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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ALL ELECTION PETITIONS LIE AS OF RIGHT TO THE COURT OF APPEAL

In the case of Awuse v. Odili (2003) 18 NWLR (pt. 851) 116 at 119, Ejiwunmi JSC supported the lead judgment of I.L. Kutugi JSC quoted the provision of Section 246 (1) (b) (ii) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and said of the Section as follows: “An appeal to the Court of Appeal shall lie as of right from the decision of the Governorship Election Tribunal on any question as to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of Governor”. “Though the word “any” when used as an adjective is defined in Longman Dictionary of the English Language thus: “One or some indiscriminately, whichever is chosen”. It would appear that the word “any” qualifying “question” was deliberately used by the law makers to indicate that an appeal to the Court of Appeal was not limited only to hearing appeals only to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of Governor —– It follows therefore that the provisions of Section 246 (1) allows appeals to lie to Court of Appeal in respect of interlocutory decision of the Governorship Election Tribunals and the other tribunals named in that section of the Constitution”.

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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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THE PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT CIVIL PROCEDURE RULES ARE SUBJECT TO THE EXPRESS PROVISIONS OF THE ELECTORAL ACT

Permit me to still say a word or two of my own on Petitioners’ contention that Order 3 Rules 2 and 3 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 permitting parties to file witness deposition of a subpoenaed witness even after commencement of their action applies automatically to election petitions by virtue of Paragraph 54 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022, so the Witnesses statement of their witnesses filed by them after hearing of the petition had long commenced were in order. In the first place, Paragraph 54 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 simply states as follows: Subject to the express provisions of this Act, the practice and procedure of the Tribunal or the Court in relation to an election petition shall be as nearly as possible, similar to the practice and procedure of the Federal High Court in the exercise of its civil jurisdiction, and the Civil Procedure Rules shall apply with such modifications as may be necessary to render them applicable having regard to the provisions of this Act, as if the petitioner and the respondent were respectively the plaintiff and the defendant in an ordinary civil action. (Italics ours) This provision clearly makes application of the Civil Procedure Rules of the Federal High Court in election petitions subject to the express provisions of the Electoral Act.” It is not the other way round of modifying provisions of the Act to agree with the Rules of the Federal High Court as suggested by Petitioners’ counsel. That much, Paragraph 54 further clarifies by stating that even where the Federal High Court Rules are considered applicable, they “shall [only] apply with such modifications as may be necessary to render them applicable having regard to the provisions of this Act.” What all that means is that, where there is express provision in the Act on a particular situation, as it clearly is in Paragraph 4(5)(b) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 that says the election petition shall be accompanied by Written statements on oath of the witnesses,” the provisions of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules will not apply.

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

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RIGHT OF APPEAL AGAINST INTERLOCUTORY DECISION IN AN ELECTION TRIBUNAL

In the case of Maduako V Onyejiocha (2009) 5 NWLR (pt. 1134) 259 at 280 the Court of Appeal Per Eko JCA held as follows:- “By way of emphasis, I wish to add that the decision of the Supreme Court in Alhaji Atiku Abubakar & Ors V. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua & Ors SC 288/2007 of 25th January, 2008 (reported in (2008) 4 NWLR (pt. 1078) 465 Per Niki Tobi JSC, leave no doubt in me that an aggrieved party has right of appeal against an interlocutory decision of an election tribunal. That right is a constitutional right by dint of Section 246 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, which is in Pari materia with Section 233 (2) (3) of the Constitution under which Atiku V. Yar’Adua case was decided”.

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