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IN ELECTION PETITION, RECOURSE TO THE FHC RULES IS SUBJECT TO THE ELECTORAL ACT

Dictum

Specifically, any recourse to the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules must be “subject to the express provisions” of the Act. It follows that it is only where the Electoral Act or First Schedule does not provide for a particular situation that reference would be made to the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules with necessary modification.

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

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STATING ADDRESS FOR SERVICE IN AN ELECTION PETITION

Paragraph 4 (4) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022 provides as follows: “Paragraph 4 (4); “at the foot of the election petition, there shall also be stated an address of the petitioner for service at which address documents intended for the petitioner may be left and its occupier. We have carefully gone through the petition filed by the Petitioner and we hold that the Petitioner complied with the provision of paragraph 4(4) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022. This is because the Petitioner copiously stated at the foot of the election petition, his address for service, at which address documents or all Court processes relating to this petition may be served on the Petitioner and the Petitioner equally indicated who the occupier of that address is.

— A. Osadebay, J. APC v INEC & Ors. (EPT/KN/GOV/01/2023, 20th Day of September, 2023)

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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

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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ELECTION PETITION SHOULD STATE THE DATE OF THE ELECTION, RETURNED WINNER, AND RAW FIGURES

As it is, the sub-paragraph provides for three requirements: (a) That the election was held. In this respect, the petitioner is expected to depose to the fact that the election was held and the date on which it was held. (b) The scores of the candidates who contested the election. Here, the petitioner is under a legal duty to indicate the official scores of INEC and not what he thinks or thought should be the scores. He can reserve what he thinks or thought should be the scores to any subsequent paragraph or paragraphs in the petition. All that paragraph 5(1) (c) requires is the raw official figures of INEC. (c) The person returned as the winner of the election. Again, all that the petitioner is expected to state is the person officially declared by INEC as the winner of the election. In other words, paragraph 5(1) (c) enjoins the petitioner to name the candidate who won the election as declared by INEC. Again, he can contest the result of INEC in any subsequent paragraph or paragraphs in the petition to the effect that he was in law the winner of the election.

— Niki Tobi, JCA. Nnamdi Eriobuna & Ors. V. Ikechukwu Obiorah (CA/E/77/99, 24 May 1999)

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RATIONALE BEHIND WHY A GOVERNOR IS NOT IMMUNED FROM ELECTION PETITION

I am also of the view that the appeal can be allowed on the main issue of immunity of the governor under the provisions of section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. The issue can be resolved by a simple question as to whether a person declared and sworn-in as the governor elect can be sued by appropriate party to challenge the declaration. By law the answer must be in the positive. If the said person is said to be immuned under the section the resultant effect is that once a person is declared and sworn – in as governor elect that ends the matter, no one can complain or take any legal action even if the person conducted any gross election malpractice. This will encourage gross wrongful and illegal activities among the parties contesting for the position. This would undoubtedly negate the necessary intendment of our constitution and would destroy the democracy itself. In election petition where the status of the governor is being challenged, as in this, then the said immunity is also questioned. He has no immunity against being sued and consequently he cannot be immuned from being subpoened. It must be made clear that the provisions of section 308 of the Constitution are applicable to ordinary civil proceedings as in the case of Tinubu v. I.M.B. Securities Limited (supra) and criminal proceedings and not in election related matter as in Obih v. Mbakwe (supra) and our present case. In my judgment the appeal is to be allowed on this issue. It is allowed with an order that the matter be remitted for fresh trial by a tribunal of different membership.

— Ja’ Afaru Mika’ilu, J.C.A. AD v. Fayose (2004) – CA/IL/EP/GOV/1/2004

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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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RESULT ANNOUNCED BY INEC IS PRESUMED TO BE CORRECT

The law is trite that the results declared by INEC enjoy a presumption of regularity. In other words, they are prima facie correct. The onus is on the petitioner to prove the contrary. See Buhari v. Obasanjo (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 941) 1; Awolowo v. Shagari (1979 ) 6 – 9 SC 51; Akinfosile v. Ijose (1960) SCNLR 447, (1960) WNLR 160.

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

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