In Ihute v Independent National Electoral Commission (1999) 4 NWLR (Part 599) 360, it was held that in an election petition, when a petitioner makes an allegation of non-compliance with the electoral law as the basis or foundation of his case, he has a heavy burden to show the tribunal by cogent and compelling evidence that the non-compliance is of such a nature as to affect the result of the election. The court followed the decision in Kudu v Aliyu, (supra). The decision was followed in the case of Haruna v Modibbo (2004) 16 NWLR (Part 900) 487. The court added in Haruna that the petitioner must satisfy the tribunal that he is a victim of the alleged malpractices. The court also relied on Nabature v Mahuta (1992) 0 NWLR (Part 263) 585 and Awolowo v Shagari, (supra).

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The courts have held in a plethora of cases that the issue of membership of a political party is an internal affair of the political party. It has been consistently held, that it is only the party (in this case, the 3 rd Respondent), that has the prerogative of determining who are its members and the 3 rd Respondent, having sponsored the 2 nd Respondent as its candidate for the Governorship Election in Kano State on the 18 th of March 2023, the 2 nd Respondent has satisfied the requirement of being a member of the 3 rd Respondent as provided for in S134 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act 2022. Consequently, it has been held, that is not within the right of the Petitioner at this stage and after the nomination, sponsorship of the 2 nd Respondent by the 3 rd Respondent as its candidate, to question the 2 nd Respondents membership of the 3 rd Respondent, as it is an internal affair of the party.

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

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Let me underline here that in the conduct of an election, certain processes must have been walked over to conclude and confirm that the election was conclusive. The steps outlined by the law must not be broken. These steps are: (a) Accreditation (b) Conduct of poils (c) Counting of votes (d) Collation and announcement of results (e) Signing of result forms (f) Publication of results.

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

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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 (2) (b) clearly refers to two thirds of all the constituents of the group enumerated therein as the minimum number from each of which a candidate must have one-quarter of the votes cast therein. There is nothing in Subsection (2)(b) that requires or suggests that it will not apply to the areas listed therein as a group. The argument of Learned SAN that the provision by using the word “and” to conclude the listing of the areas to which it applies has created two groups to which it applies differently is, with due respects, a very imaginative and ingenious proposition that the wordings of that provision cannot by any stretch accommodate or reasonably bear. If S. 134(2) of the 1999 Constitution intended that the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja should be distinct from states of the Federation as a distinct group it would not have listed it together with states of the Federation in (b). Also, if S. 134(2) had intended having one-quarter of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja as a 4 separate requirement additional to the ones enumerated therein, it would have clearly stated so in a separate paragraph numbered (c). It is glaring that S.134(2) prescribed two requirements that must be cumulatively satisfied by a Presidential candidate in an election contested by not less than two candidates, before he or she can be deemed duly elected President. It prescribed the first requirement in (a) and the second one in (b). It did not impose a third requirement and so there is no (c) therein … Such meaning would result a Presidential candidate that has the highest votes cast in the election and not less than one-quarter of the votes cast in not less than two-thirds of 36 states of the Federation or in all the states of the Federation cannot be deemed duly elected as President because he did not have one-quarter of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This certainly violates the egalitarian principle of equality of persons, votes and the constituent territories of Nigeria, a fundamental principle and purpose of our Constitution. Such a meaning is unconstitutional. I think that his said proposition is the result of reading those provisions in isolated patches instead of reading them as a whole and in relation to other parts of the Constitution. Reading and interpreting the relevant provision as a whole and together with other parts of the Constitution as a whole is an interpretation that best reveals the legislative intention in the relevant provision.

— Agim JSC. Peter Obi & Anor. v. INEC & Ors. (SC/CV/937/2023, Thursday the 26th day of October 2023)

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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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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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Nigeria is one vast and huge country made up of so many diversities in terms of tribes, cultures, sociology, anthropology and above all, quite a number of political parties (some large, some small). These diversities, coupled with the usual aggressiveness of Nigerians arising particularly from the do or die behaviour in politics; there must be irregularities. Courts of law must therefore take the irregularities for granted unless they are of such compelling proportion or magnitude as to “affect substantially the result of the election.” This may appear to the ordinary Nigerian mind as a stupid statement but that is the law as provided in section 146(1) of the Electoral Act and there is nothing anybody can do about it, as long as the Legislature keeps it in the Electoral Act. The subsection is like the rock of Gibraltar, solidly standing behind and for a respondent to an election petition. I am not saying that a Presidential Election can never succeed in the light of section 146(1). No. It can if the petitioner discharges the burden the subsection places on him.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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