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ELECTION SHALL NOT BE INVALIDATED BY MERE REASON THAT IT WAS NOT CONDUCTED SUBSTANTIALLY; IT MUST SHOW THAT IT AFFECTED THE ELECTION RESULT

Dictum

In Buhari v Obasanjo (2005) 13 NWLR (Part 941) 1, Belgore, JSC, said at page 191:– “It is manifest that an election by virtue of section 135(1) of the Act shall not be invalidated by mere reason it was not conducted substantially in accordance with the provisions of the Act, it must be shown clearly by evidence that the non-substantiality has affected the result of the election. Election and its victory, is like soccer and goals scored. The petitioner must not only show substantial non-compliance but also the figures, i.e. votes, that the compliance attracted or omitted. The elementary evidential burden of ‘The person asserting must prove’ has not been derogated from by s.135(1). The petitioners must not only assert but must satisfy the court that the non-compliance has so affected the election result to justify nullification.”

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DEFECTIVE VOTERS REGISTER USED FOR AN ELECTION

Whereas the process of compiling a Voters Register is a pre-election matter, the use to which an alleged fundamentally defective Voters Register so compiled is put to in an election which may substantially affect the result of the said election is clearly an issue of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, which constitutes a ground for challenging an election in a petition under section 138(l)(b) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.

— W.S.N. Onnoghen, JSC. Akeredolu v. Mimiko (2013) – SC. 352/2013

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QUALIFICATION TO CONTEST GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION

In the Supreme Court case of AL-HASSAN V ISIHAKU 2016 10 NWLR PART 520, PG 230, the court reiterated at pages 275- 276 PARAS H-A; 277 PARAS A-F as follows; “…Where it is alleged that a person is or was not qualified to contest election into the office of Governor as envisaged by section 138(1) (a) of the Electoral Act, it is S177 and 182 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that are being contemplated. Taking the provisions together, it is seen that both the provision for qualification and that for disqualification are so comprehensive which makes them exhaustive. Thus the Constitution, as the Supreme law of the land, having such elaborate and allencompassing provisions for qualification and disqualification of persons seeking the office of Governorship of a state, does not leave any room for addition to those conditions already set out. Once a candidate sponsored by his political party has satisfied the provisions set out in S177 of the Constitution and is not disqualified under S182 (1) thereof, he is qualified to stand for election to the office of Governor of a State. No other law can disqualify him (P.D.P V INEC (2014) 17 NWLR (PT 1437) 525, Shinkafi V Yari (2016) 7 NWLR (PT 1511) 340 referred to (Pp 275, paras H_A;277 Paras A-F.”

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PRESIDING OFFICER OF A POLLING UNIT IS NOT MANDATED TO UPLOAD RESULT TO INEC DATABASE

There is no part of the Electoral Act or the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 that requires that the Presiding Officer of the election in a Polling unit transmit the particulars or number of accredited voters recorded by the BVAS to the INEC data base or anywhere. This is obvious from all the provisions reproduced above. Equally, there is no part of the Electoral Act and INEC Regulations and Guidelines that require that election result of a polling unit should on the spot during the poll be transmitted to the INEC National Election Register or data base. Rather, the Regulations provide for the BVAS to be used to scan the completed result in Form EC8A and transmit or upload the scanned copy of the polling unit result to the Collation System and INEC Result viewing Portal (IReV).

— E.A. Agim, JSC. Oyetola v INEC & Ors. (2022) – SC/CV/508/2023

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INEC COLLATION SYSTEM VERSUS THE INEC RESULT VIEWING PORTAL

As their names depict, the Collation System and the INEC Result Viewing Portal are part of the election process and play particular roles in that process. The Collation System is made of the centres where results are collated at various stages of the election. So the polling units results transmitted to the collation system provides the relevant collation officer the means to verify a polling unit result as the need arises for the purpose of collation. The results transmitted to the Result Viewing Portal is to give the public at large the opportunity to view the polling unit results on the election day. It is clear from the provisions of Regulation 38(i) and (ii) that the Collation System and Result Viewing Portal are different from the National Electronic Register of Election Results. The Collation System and Result Viewing Portal are operational during the election as part of the process, the National Electronic Register of Election Results is a post election record and is not part of the election process.

— E.A. Agim, JSC. Oyetola v INEC & Ors. (2022) – SC/CV/508/2023

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PRE-ELECTION MATTER CANNOT BE STALLED BECAUSE ELECTION IS OVER

So, does the mere holding of an election and the declaration of a winner or even the swearing in of a winner into office alone render a pre – election matter duly commenced and pending before a Court of competent jurisdiction to become merely academic and or over taken by events and thus liable to be struck out? In law whether a pre-election matter is academic or not is dependent on the facts giving rise to the pre-election matter and if those facts or issues remain live, then the pre – election would be determined on its merit notwithstanding whether or not the election has been held and or the outcome of the election.

– B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Ganiyu v. Oshoakpemhe & Ors. (2021) – CA/B/12A/2021

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PETITIONER IN AN ELECTION MUST PROVE NONCOMPLIANCE FIRST

In Buhari v Obasanjo (2005) 13 NWLR (Part 941) 1, when the case came to the Supreme Court on appeal, the court held that where an allegation of non-compliance with the electoral law is made, the onus lies on the petitioner firstly to establish the non-compliance, and secondly, that it did or could have affected the result of the election. It is after the petitioner has established the foregoing that the onus would shift to the respondent whose election is challenged, to establish that the result was not affected.

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