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FORGERY IN INEC FORM MUST BE PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBTS

Dictum

False information in INEC Form EC9 which is an affidavit, amounts to lying on oath and is invariably, a crime. Being a crime, its commission must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

– Aboki JSC. APC v. Obaseki (2021)

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MEANING OF NON-COMPLIANCE WITH REGARDS TO ELECTION

Construing the word “non-compliance” in both provisions with regard to an election has created a situation where an election has been conducted in a manner not in accordance with the provisions of the Act and/or the guidelines prescribed therefrom.

— C.M. Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC. Akeredolu v. Mimiko (2013) – SC. 352/2013

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VOTERS REGISTER CANNOT BE REPLACED BY CARD READER TO PROVE OVERVOTING

This court in a number of recent decisions has commended the introduction of the card reader in the 2015 elections by INEC. The court has noted however, that its function is solely to authenticate the owner of a voter’s card and to prevent multi-voting by a voter and cannot replace the voters register or statement of results in appropriate forms. See Shinkafi v. Yari ; Okereke v. Umahi (unreported) SC.1004/ 2015 delivered on 5/2/2016 at pages 31 – 34.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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TECHNICALITIES IN ELECTION PETITIONS – IT NEVER SOLVES BASIC ISSUES IN CONTROVERSIES

It is now trite law that election petitions are sui generis that is, that they are in class of their own and are governed by different rules. An election petition is by nature a very peculiar proceeding which distinguishes it from an ordinary civil proceeding. See Abubakar v. Yar’adua (2008) 19 NWLR (Pt 1120) 1. In Nwole v. Iwuagwu (2004) 15 NWLR (Pt 895) 61 the Court, held thus: “The courts have often harped on the need to do substantial justice in most cases without dwelling too much on technicalities … in all election matters, the use of technicalities should be avoided, as technicalities merely help to shut the opponent out. It never resolves basic issues in controversy. Once it is agreed that election petitions are in a class of their own, the handling of the matter too must take a form devoid of legal technicalities that tend to leave the litigants more confused. Boldness of a high degree is required of the electoral tribunal, which must never be seen to shy away from obvious grave allegations.”

— J.S. Abiriyi, JCA. Aregbesola v Omisore (2014) – CA/AK/EPT/GOV/05/237/2014

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INEC RESULTS VIEWING PORTAL IS NOT A COLLATION SYSTEM

From the above functions of the BVAS, it is clear to me that, apart from using the BVAS to scan the physical copy of the polling unit result and upload same to the Result Viewing Portal (iReV), there is nothing in the Regulations to show that the BVAS was meant to be used to electronically transmit or transfer the results of the Polling Unit direct to the collation system. It should be noted that INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV) is not a collation system. The Supreme Court in OYETOLA V INEC (2023) LPELR-60392(SC) has explained the difference between the Collation System and the IReV. In that case, Agim, JSC held as follows: “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.”

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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HISTORY OF THE EVIDENTIAL BURDEN OF NON-COMPLIANCE IN OUR ELECTORAL LAWS

This ground of non-compliance to the Electoral Act has been in all our Electoral Laws even from when we had parliamentary system of government. The Courts have over the years shed a lot of light on the requirement of the law in proving the allegation of non-compliance. A short chronicle of the decisions of our Courts will throw more light on the evidential burden of proving non-compliance. In BASSEY V. YOUNG (1963) LPELR-15465 (SC), BRETT JSC in the then Federal Supreme Court held as follows: “…Akinfosile v. ljose (1960) 5 F.S.C. 192, where the Court held that a petitioner who alleges in his petition a particular non compliance and avers in his prayer that the non-compliance was substantial must so satisfy the Court. If there should be any inconsistency between the two decisions, it is the decision of this Court that binds us, and it would appear to me that we are bound by the authority of Akinfosile v. ljose to hold that the petitioner must show both that irregularities took place and that they might have affected the result of the election.” In AWOLOWO V. SHAGARI & ORS (1979) LPELR-653 (SC), the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the 1979 election contest held per Obaseki JSC as follows: “Once a petitioner alleges a particular non-compliance and averred in his prayer that it was substantial it is his duty so to satisfy the Court or Tribunal having cognisance of the question. See AKINFOSILE v. IJOSE 5 FSC 92 AT 99 (a case dealing with Regulation 7 of the Elections (House of Representatives) Regulations 1958 which is in pari materia with Section 111 of the Electoral Decree 1977 as ………..to vitiate an election, the non-compliance must be proved to have affected the results of the election. See SORUNKE v. ODEBUNMI (1960) 5 FSC AT PP 177 AND 178, where Ademola, C.J.N, delivering the judgment of the Federal Supreme Court said: “Finally, in considering ….. whether the election was void under the Ballot Act, Lord Coleridge said at page 751 of the judgment: If this proposition be closely examined it will be found to be equivalent to this, that the non-observance of the rules or forms which is to render the election invalid, must be so great as to amount to a conducting of the election in a manner contrary to the principle of an election by ballot, and must be so great as to satisfy the tribunal that it did affect or might have affected the majority of the voters, or in other words, the result of the election. When Lord Coleridge refers to a majority of voters, he cannot mean to say that non-compliance may be overlooked unless it affects over half of the votes cast. He referred to a non compliance, which “affected the majority of voters, or in other words, the result of the election.” It cannot be doubted that here Lord Coleridge means that those electors wishing to vote who formed a majority in favour of a particular candidate must have been prevented from casting a majority of votes in his favour with effect. This does not require that all their votes must have been disallowed; it will be sufficient if enough of their votes are disallowed to give another candidate a majority of valid votes.” See also the cases of BUHARI & ANOR V. OBASANJO & ORS (2005) LPELR-815 (SC) and CPC V. INEC & ORS (2011) LPELR-8257 (SC).

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