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DIVISIONS AND FACTIONS IN POLITICAL PARTIES

Dictum

The mischief which the framers of the Constitution wanted to avoid was carpet-crossing which, from our constitutional history, in the not distant past, had bedevilled the political morality of this country. They had however to allow for a situation where a political party, by reason of internal squabbles, had split into one or more factions. A split or division could arise without any fault of the members of a political party, resulting in a member rightly or wrongly, finding himself in a minority group which may not be big enough, or strong enough, to satisfy the recognition, as a separate political party, of the Federal Electoral Commission. For such a member not to be allowed to join another political party with his faction may be to place him in a position where his right to contest for political office will be lost.

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

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SUBSTITUTION OF CANDIDATE MUST BE ON A COGENT & VERIFIABLE REASON

In Ugwu & Anor. v. Araraume & Anor [2007] 16 S.C. (pt.1) 88, this Court considered the import and effect of Section 34 of the Electoral Act on the substitution of a candidate where no cogent reason was given for the substitution. At page 134 of the report this Court per Tobi J.S.C. said: “Taking Section 34(2) in the con of primaries in particular, I have no doubt in my mind that the subsection is not only important but has an imperative content; considering the general object intended to be secured by the 2006 Act. It is certainly not the intention of the Act to gamble with an important aspect of the electoral process, such as primaries in the hands of a political party to dictate the pace in anyway it likes, without any corresponding exercise of due process on the part of an aggrieved person…. If a section of a statute contains the mandatory ‘shall’ and it is so construed by, the court, then the consequence of not complying with the provision follows automatically. I do not think I sound clear. Perhaps I will be clearer by taking Section 34(2). The subsection provides that there must be cogent and verifiable reasons for the substitution on the part of the 3rd respondent. This places a burden on the 3rd respondent not only to provide reasons but such reasons must be cogent and verifiable. If no reasons are given, as in this case, not to talk of the cogency and verifiability of the reasons, then the sanction that follows or better that flows automatically is that the subsection was not complied with and therefore interpreted against the 3rd respondent in the way I have done in this judgment. It is as simple as that. It does not need all the jurisdiction of construction of statute. I know of no canon of statutory interpretation which foists on a draftsman a drafting duty to provide for sanction in every section of a statute.”

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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 MUST BE SPONSORED BY HIS POLITICAL PARTY

It is trite that for a person to qualify as a candidate for a general election, he must not only be a member of a political party but he must have been sponsored for the election by his political party. See the cases of Gwede v. INEC & Ors. (2014) LPELR-23763 (SC); and Al-Hassan & Anor v. Ishaku & Ors. (2016) LPELR-40083.

— 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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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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IT IS A POLITICAL PARTY OR ITS CANDIDATE WHO CAN CHALLENGE AN ELECTION

In the case of ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS V PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY 2019 LPELR-49499 CA, in the interpretation of the provision of S137(1) of the Electoral Act 2010, which provision is in pari material with the extant provisions of S133 (1) (a) and (b) the Electoral Act 2022, the Court of Appeal, Per Ali Abubakar Babandi Gummel JCA, took the stance that: ‘….it is clear from this provision, that either the political party, or its candidate for the election, or both of them jointly can present an election petition….this provision recognizes that a political party, can in its name, present an election petition challenging the election for the benefit of the candidate and itself….’ Ditto, in the lead judgment delivered by per Emmanuel Akomaye Agim JCA, the court reiterated and expounded as follows; ‘….therefore such a petition is a representative action by the political party on behalf of its candidate for the election and its members, the political party’s candidate for the election is an unnamed party for his benefit and that of the political party. An unnamed party in a representative action is a party to the action…….”

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

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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