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

Dictum

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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A CANDIDATE OF A POLITICAL PARTY MUST NOT BE JOINED IN THE PETITION FILED BY THE POLITICAL PARTY

The 2nd Respondent/Applicant also contended that the Petition is not properly constituted as the candidate sponsored by the Petitioner has not been joined as a Co-Petitioner in the petition. The short answer to that is that, Section 133(1)(b) of the Electoral Act, 2022 entitles the Petitioner as a political party to institute an election petition. The Applicant has not referred us to any provision of the Electoral Act, or any authority that mandates the political party to file an election petition, only where its candidate has been joined as Co-Petitioner. It is true that, it is proper for the candidate of the party to be so joined but there is no law that compels the political party to join its candidate in the petition. Afterall, the purpose of such joinder is so that the candidate be bound by any judgment or order of the Court or Tribunal but any non-joinder will not invalidate the Petition. This is particularly so when Section 133(1) of the Electoral Act (supra) states that: “An election petition may be presented by one or more of the following persons – (a) a candidate in an election; or (b) a political party which participated in the election.” By the use of the disjunctive word “or”, it means that an Election Petition may be filed by the candidate alone, or the political party alone, or both of them. See Buhari & Anor v. Yusuf & Anor (2003) 14 NWLR (pt. 841) 446 and APC v. PDP & Ors (2015) LPELR – 24349 (CA). The objection on this ground is therefore discountenanced.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. APM v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/04/2023

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DISQUALIFICATION OF A GOVERNOR FOR CHANGING PARTY

Now, for the purpose of disqualifications of a candidate to the office of Governor, the provisions of section 166(1)(a) of the Constitution incorporates the provisions of section 64(1)(g) in the former subsection. The combined effect of the two subsections is that an incumbent Governor whose election to the office of Governor was sponsored by a political party is disqualified for re-election to the office of Governor if he changes his political party which sponsored him and seeks re-election on the sponsorship of his new party unless the circumstances for the change of the political party are covered by the proviso to section 64(1)(g).

– Bello, J.S.C. FEDECO v. Goni (1983) – SC

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WHEN CAN IT BE SAID THAT A POLITICAL PARTY IS SPONSORING A CANDIDATE

I have pondered over the submissions of counsel for appellants on this sub-issue and have not clearly seen the connection between publications of the names of candidate by 3rd respondent and qualification to contest any election to which the publication or non publication relates. I hold the view that publication of names of candidates by 3rd respondent is not evidence of sponsorship by a political party which nominated the candidates. Evidence of nomination and sponsorship of a candidate by a political party lies in the declaration of the winner of the party’s primary election conducted to elect the party’s candidate for the general election in question coupled with the political party forwarding the names of the said elected candidate to the 3rd respondent as its nominated candidate for the election see Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, which enacts thus.

— Onnoghen, JSC. Kubor v. Dickson (2012) – SC.369/2012

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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 ONLY THE NATIONAL WORKING COMMITTEE OF A POLITICAL PARTY THAT IS SADDLED WITH CONDUCTING PRIMARY ELECTION

‘In the instant case, the Appellant herein clearly stated in the affidavit in support of his originating summons that he took part in the primary election held at St. Paul University, Awka in obedience to the judgment of Adeniyi J of the Federal Capital Territory High Court and that the said election was conducted by Sir Chukwudi Umeaba who authored and signed the alleged result of the primary election. He is said to be the leader of the State Executive of the 3rd Respondent. That Appellant emerged winner of that contraption he called party primary election. But from the authorities of this Court cited above, that assemblage at St. Paul University was nothing other than an illegal and an unlawful gathering of party delinquents. The outcome therefore was a sham and a farce. See Emenike v PDP (supra). Not having been conducted by the National Executive Committee 3rd Respondent, the primary election held at St. Paul University on 26th June, 2021 which the Appellant took part is unknown to law and is a nullity. The law is very clear that a State executive of a political party has no vires to conduct party primaries. It is only the National Executive Committee of the party that is recognized as the proper organ of the party saddled with the responsibility of conducting party primaries.’

‘Party primaries are conducted by the National Executive Committee of political parties. Definitely, not by the State executive of the party. The Appellant lacked the locus standi to incept the suit giving birth to this appeal. Counsel ought to advise their clients when requested to file such frivolous suits in Court.’

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

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ONE POLITICAL PARTY CANNOT INTERFERE IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE OTHER POLITICAL PARTY

The decision of this court in the case of PDP V. NGBOR & ORS (2023) LPELR 59930 (SC), delivered on 7th February, 2023 is instructive. In that case, the Appellant (PDP) filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Division, challenging the decision of INEC to accept the candidates of the 7th Respondent, African Democratic Congress (ADC). The Appellant therein alleged that ADC did not comply with the provisions of the law in the nomination of its candidates for Rivers State House of Assembly elections in that the primary elections from of which its candidates in respect of some state constituencies emerged were held outside the constituencies, contrary to the requirement of the law. The Appellant also alleged that INEC maintained double standards as it insisted that the nomination of the Appellant’s candidates must comply with legal requirements, while overlooking the requirements in respect of the 7th Respondent’s candidates. The trial court granted the reliefs sought by the Appellant. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the decision of the trial court was set aside and it was held that the trial court lacked jurisdiction owing to the Appellant’s lack of locus standi. The Appellant then appealed to this court. In dismissing the appeal and affirming the judgment of the Court of Appeal, it was held that Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution does not permit a political party to interfere in the internal affairs of another. My Lord Ogunwumiju, JSC elucidated on the extent of Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution thus: “While Section 285(14)(c) talks about how the political party can challenge the decision of INEC, it relates to any decision of INEC directly against the interest of that political party. It cannot be stretched to include the inactions/actions of INEC in respect of nomination for an election by another political party. So, pre-election and election matters are governed by laws made specially to regulate proceedings. See NWAOGU v. INEC (2008) LPELR 4644, SA’AD v. MAIFATA (2008) LPELR-4915. In this case, the 2nd Appellant has absolutely no cause of action since the party purportedly in violation of the Electoral Act is not his party. In the case of the political party, no other interpretation can be given to the provision than that the political party has a right of action against INEC where it rejects the nomination of its candidates, where it proposes unsuitable timetable or its registration of voters or register of voters or other activities of INEC are against the interest of that political party. Section 285(14)(c) cannot extend to challenge INEC’s conduct in relation to another political party irrespective of whether such conduct by the other party is wrongful or unlawful. Section 285(14)(c) cannot clothe a party with the locus to dabble into INEC’s treatment or conduct in respect of another political party. No matter how manifestly unlawful an action is, it is the person with the locus standi to sue who can challenge it in a Court of law. See Suit SC/CV/1628/2022 APC & ANOR v. INEC & ORS delivered on 3/2/23.”

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

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