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GROUND; GROUND FOR QUESTIONING AN ELECTION

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It is trite law, that a Petitioner is required to question an election on any of the grounds set out in Section 134 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022. For ease of reference, Section 134(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides as follows: “An election may be questioned on any of the following grounds – a. A person whose election is questioned was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election; b. The election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of this Act; or c. The Respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election. What then is the meaning of the word “ground”? In the case of KALU VS CHUKWUMERIJE (2012) 12 NWLR (PT. 1315) 425 AT 485, the Court of Appeal per Owoade, JCA puts it succinctly, thus: “The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1971) US reprint (1988) defines the word “Ground” in numerous terms and with an array of examples at pages 1214 to 1225 as follows: “Ground”: (a) The fundamental constituent or the essential part of anything. (b) A fundamental principle, also the elements or rudiments of any study or branch of knowledge. (c) A circumstance on which an opinion, inference, arguments, statement or claim is founded, or which has given rise to an action, procedure or mental feeling, a motive often with additional implication. A valid reason justifying motive or what is alleged as such.” Thus, a ground in the context of an election petition, is the fundamental reason, basis or justification for questioning the election. Before a party can question an election, his petition must fall within the grounds specified by the Electoral Act 2022. See the following cases: OYEGUN VS IGBENEDION & ORS (1992) 2 NWLR (PT. 226) 947; OKONKWO VS INEC & ORS (2003) 3 LRECN 599; ABUBAKAR VS INEC (2020) 12 NWLR (PT. 1737); and MODIBO VS USMAN (2020) 3 NWLR (PT. 1712) 470.

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

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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....

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

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...

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INTERPRETATION OF SECTION 134(2) OF THE CFRN

It is obvious that states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja were lumped together as a group by Subsection (2) (b) above. What differentiates the constituents of the group is their names and nothing more. One of them is called Federal Capital Territory and the rest called states of the Federation. Subsection...

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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.” Was...

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