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NON-COMPLIANCE MUST BE PROVED POLLING-UNIT BY POLLING-UNIT

Dictum

Where a petitioner complains of non-compliance with the provisions of the Act, he has an onerous task, for he must prove it polling unit by polling unit, ward by ward and the standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities. He must show figures that the adverse party was credited with as a result of the non-compliance e.g. Forms EC8A, election materials not signed/stamped by presiding officers. It is only then that the respondents are to lead evidence in rebuttal. See Ucha v. Elechi (2012) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1317) 330 at 359 – G. It is also the law that where the commission of a crime by a party to a proceeding is directly in issue in any proceeding, civil or criminal, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. See section 135 of the Evidence Act, 2011. The burden of proof is on the person who asserts it. See section 135(2) of the Evidence Act, 2011 . See also: Abubakar v. Yar’Adua (2008) 19 NWLR (Pt. 1120) 1 at 143 – 144 B; Buhari v. Obasanjo ; Omoboriowo v. Ajasin (1984) l SCNLR 108; Kakih v. PDP (2014) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1430) 374 at 422 – 423 B- C.

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

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THERE IS A REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION THAT AN ELECTION RESULT DECLARED BY A RETUNING OFFICER IS CORRECT

Election results are presumed by law to be correct until the contrary is proved. It is however a rebuttable presumption. In other words, there is a rebuttable presumption that the result of any election declared by a returning officer is correct and authentic and the burden is on the person who denies the correctness and authenticity of the return to rebut the presumption. (See Omoboriowo v Ajasin (1984) 1 SCNLR 108; Jalingo v Nyame (1992) 3 NWLR (Part 231) 538; Finebone v Brown (1999) 4 NWLR (Part 600) 613; Hashidu v Goje (2003) 15 NWLR (Part 843) 361 and Buhari v Obasanjo (2005) 13 NWLR (Part 941) 1).

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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GROUND TO PROVE OVER VOTING

The law is well settled that in order to prove over-voting, the petitioner must do the following: (i) tender the voters register; (ii) tender the statement of results in appropriate forms which would show the number of registered accredited voters and number of actual votes; (iii) relate each of the documents to the specific area of his case in respect of which the documents are tendered; and (iv) show that the figure representing the over-voting if removed would result in victory for the petitioner. See Haruna v. Modibbo (2004) All FWLR (Pt. 238) 740, (2004 ) 16 NWLR (Pt. 900) 487;Kalgo v. Kalgo (1999) 6 NWLR (Pt. 608 ) 639; Audu v. INEC (No. 2) (2010) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1212) 456; Shinkafi v. Yari (unreported) SC.907/2015 delivered on 8/1/2016; Yahaya v. Dankwambo (unreported) SC.979/2015 delivered on 25/1/2016.

— 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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NOT EVERY GROUND OF NONCOMPLIANCE WILL AMOUNT TO CORRUPT PRACTICE

It is also pertinent to observe that in paragraph 79 of the Petition where the Petitioners alleged corrupt practices, they merely stated that they are repeating their pleadings in support of the grounds of non compliance to be in support of their allegations of corrupt practices. It should be noted however, that not every ground of non-compliance will amount to corrupt practice. In fact, the standard of proof of non compliance differs from that of corrupt practice. While the standard of proof of non-compliance is on the balance of probabilities, that of corrupt practice is beyond reasonable doubt. See: PDP v INEC (supra) at page 31, paras. A – B, per Rhodes-Vivour, JSC; MOHAMMED v WAMAKKO (2017) LPELR-42667(SC) at page 10, paras. D-F, per Nweze, JSC; and BOARD OF CUSTOMS & EXCISE v ALHAJI IBRAHIM BARAU (1982) LPELR-786(SC) at pages 41-43, paras. F-E, per Idigbe, JSC.

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

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NON-QUALIFICATION IS A GROUND TO NULLIFY THE RETURN OF A CANDIDATE IN AN ELECTION; IT IS NOT A PRE-ELECTION MATTER

This is so because issues of non-qualification of a candidate to contest an election are cognizable grounds in an Election Petition challenging the
29 declaration and return of the person so declared and returned by INEC, and in such a claim, the 1st Respondent, though not a member of the 2nd Appellant and having also not participated in the primaries of the 2nd Appellant, would have the requisite locus standi to challenge, in an Election Petition, the valid nomination and sponsorship of the 1st Appellant as candidate of the 2nd Appellant, a locus standi he would have lacked if the claims were in a pre – election matter before the Federal High Court for being a mere busy body dabbling into the internal affairs of the 2nd Appellant. Thus, whilst the issue of nomination of a candidate cannot be questioned by a person who is neither a member of the affected political party and who did not also participate in the questioned primary election and nomination of a candidate in a pre-election matter by reason of lack of requisite locus standi, yet the same issue of valid nomination and sponsorship by a political party as required by Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2022 can rightly ground a complaint in an Election Petition before the lower Tribunal and the issue of locus standi would not operate against such 30 a person and so also would the jurisdiction of the lower Tribunal not be ousted by the mere fact that the person so challenging the qualification of the other person declared and returned as the winner of the questioned election is not a member of the political party of the other person so declared and returned as winner and had also not participated in the alleged primary of that political party that had thrown up the other person as the candidate of his political party. It follows therefore, if a claim such as the one filed by the 1st and 2nd Respondents, which I hold was competently before the lower Tribunal, which also had the requisite jurisdiction to hear and determine it according to law, is made out it would result into the nullification of the declaration and return of the 1st Appellant, having not been validly sponsored as the candidate of a political party and thus, not qualified to contest the questioned election. The only way out of all these is simply the entrenchment of internal democracy and obedience to the provisions of both their constitution and guidelines by all the registered political parties in Nigeria in the due conduct of their affairs.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Okeke, PDP v. Nwachukwu, Labour Party, INEC (CA/ABJ/EP/IM/HR/86/2023, November 04, 2023)

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TO PROVE NON-COMPLIANCE MUST ALSO SHOW THAT NON-COMPLIANCE AFFECTED THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION

It is basic that for a petition to succeed on non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act the petitioner must prove not only that there was non-compliance with the provisions of the Act, but also that the non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election. See: Section 139 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended. Put in other words, the petitioner has to prove:- (1) That there was non-compliance. (2) That the non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election. The above have been variously pronounced in the cases of Buhari v. INEC (2008) 19 NWLR (Pt. 1120) 246 at 435; Buhari v. Obasanjo (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 941) 1 at 80; Akinfosile v. Ijose (1960) SCNLR 447; Awolowo v. Shagari (1979) 6-9 SC 51; CPC v. INEC & Ors. (2011) 12 SCNJ 644 at 710.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. Akeredolu v. Mimiko (2013) – SC. 352/2013

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