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

Dictum

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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CHALLENGING OR POKING INTO THE AFFAIRS OF ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY

Paragraph (c) of Section 285(14) of the Constitution is however the only provision that empowers a political party to institute a pre-election matter. The Appellant has latched on to the provision and argued strenuously that it vests it with locus standi to institute its case before the trial court. It should be noted that by the use of the words “…decisions or activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission paragraph…” and “…or any other applicable law has not been complied with by the Independent National Electoral Commission…” paragraph (c) only empowers a political party to challenge the actions of INEC. Anything outside this is beyond the scope of the provision of the paragraph. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the applicability of Section 285(14)(c) is not at large. The provision does not make the filing of pre-election matters by political parties an all-comers affair. It is not the purpose of the provision that a floodgate of pre-election litigation be open to political parties who will hide under it to challenge the actions or inactions of rival political parties under the guise of challenging the decisions or activities of INEC. The application of Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution does not extend to a political party poking into the affairs of another. The position of the law has always been that no political party can challenge the nomination of the candidate of another political party. The position did not change with Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution.

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

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SPONSORSHIP OF A CANDIDATE FOR AN ELECTION IS AN INTERNAL AFFAIR OF THE PARTY

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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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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CANDIDATE WHO FAILED TO PARTICIPATE IN PRIMARY ELECTION CANNOT BE HEARD TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE PRIMARIES

But before a candidate for the primaries can invoke Section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), and thus be imbued with locus standi or the ground to sue, he must have been screened and cleared by his political party and actually participated in the said primaries. Where a candidate who bought nomination form, was screened and cleared to participate in the primaries but failed to actually participate, such a candidate has lost the right to be heard in a Court of law under Section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act (supra). See Emenike v PDP & Ors (2012) 12 NWLR (pt 1315) 556, Alahassan v Ishaku & Ors (2016) LPELR – 40083 (SC), Emeka v Okadigbo (2012) 18 NWLR (pt 1316) 553, Shinkafi v Yari (supra), Jev & Anor v Iyortyom & Ors (2014) 14 NWLR (pt 1428) 575, Emenike v PDP & Ors (2012) 12 NWLR (pt 1315) 556, Eyiboh v Abia & Ors(2012) 16 NWLR (pt 1325) 51, Odedo v PDP & Ors (2015) LPELR – 24738 (SC), Lado v CPC (2011) 18 NWLR (pt 1279) 689, PDP v Sylva & Ors (2012) 13 NWLR (pt 1316) 85.

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

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