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ONLY ASPIRANT CAN CHALLENGE PRIMARIES OF A PARTY AND MUST BE HIS OWN PARTY

Dictum

In AL-HASSAN V. ISHAKU (2016) 10 NWLR (PT. 1520) 230, this court per Peter-Odili, JSC in interpreting Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) at 281, Paras DH, held thus: “Indeed, this court has settled the matter in a plethora of judicial authorities that it is only candidate/aspirant at the primaries of a party that has the locus standi to complain about the conduct of such primaries and so, the grouse of the appellants have nothing to stand on as they are clearly interlopers in regard to how the 1st respondent emerged as candidate and also how, where and when the 2nd respondent produced its candidate. Therefore, no matter how loudly the appellants shout on the irregularity, impropriety of the primaries of the 1st and 2nd respondents, the noise will remain unheard and unattended to, coming from those whose voices ought not to be heard in the internal matters of another. I refer to the following cases for assistance being: Onuoha v. Okafor (1983) 14 NSCC 494, (1983) 2 SCNLR 244; Dalhatu v. Turaki (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt.843) 310; Ardo v. Nyako (2014) LPELR 22878 (SC), (2014) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1416) 591; Emeka v. Okadigbo (2012) 18 NWLR (Pt.1331) 55 at 88; PDP v. Sylva (2012) All FWLR (Pt.637) 606 at 654, (2012) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1316) 85.”

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INVALID NOMINATION PROCESS CANNOT PRODUCE A VALID CANDIDATE FOR AN ELECTION

It is my thinking, and I hold the firm view on this, that by Section 29(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, the sponsorship referred to in Section 65(2)(a) & (b) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), means nothing else than a valid sponsorship by a political party. It cannot be otherwise. Thus, a sponsorship by a political party which results from an invalid nomination process would be incapable of meeting the stringent requirement of Section 65 (2) (a) & (b) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Therefore, a person who is shown to have emerged from an invalid primary or nomination process of a political party as required by law is not and cannot be said to have been sponsored by that political party since such a sponsorship is invalid by virtue of Section 65 (2) (a) & (b) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), and I so hold firmly. The law is and has always been, that a primary election of a political party conducted in contravention of the provisions of Section 84 (5) (c) (i) of the Electoral Act 2022, as where for instance such a primary election of the 2nd Appellant for a Federal Constituency was on 25/5/2022 at the Aladinma Shopping Mall, Owerri, Imo State a location outside the Ehime Mbano Ihitte Uboma Federal Constituency, is a nullity and of no legal consequence whatsoever. It follows therefore, a candidate who purportedly emerges from such an illegal primary election is not and cannot be said to be qualified to contest an election conducted under the Electoral Act 2022 by INEC. He remains disqualified for all purpose and if inadvertently declared and returned elected in an election conducted by INEC, which on its own has no power to disqualify him, and if he is challenged before an Election Tribunal, his declaration and return would be nullified and the candidate with the second highest lawful votes cast at the questioned election would be declared and returned at the winner of such an election by the Election Tribunal, or this Court where the lower Tribunal fails to do so. See Section 136 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2022. See also Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso v. Independent National Electoral Commission & Ors. (2023) LPELR-59702 (SC), Hon. Nnamdi Thankgod Ezeani v. Jones Onyeneri & Ors. (2023) LPELR-59701(SC).

— 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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RIGHT OF APPEAL AGAINST INTERLOCUTORY DECISION IN AN ELECTION TRIBUNAL

In the case of Maduako V Onyejiocha (2009) 5 NWLR (pt. 1134) 259 at 280 the Court of Appeal Per Eko JCA held as follows:- “By way of emphasis, I wish to add that the decision of the Supreme Court in Alhaji Atiku Abubakar & Ors V. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua & Ors SC 288/2007 of 25th January, 2008 (reported in (2008) 4 NWLR (pt. 1078) 465 Per Niki Tobi JSC, leave no doubt in me that an aggrieved party has right of appeal against an interlocutory decision of an election tribunal. That right is a constitutional right by dint of Section 246 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, which is in Pari materia with Section 233 (2) (3) of the Constitution under which Atiku V. Yar’Adua case was decided”.

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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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NONCOMPLIANCE MUST AFFECT THE RESULT OF THE ELECTION

In Akinfosile v Ijose (1960) 5 FSC 192, one of the earliest cases, if not the earliest, it was held that the onus is on the petitioner to prove not only that there was substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, but also that such non-compliance affected the result of the election. The decision was followed in the case of Kudu v Aliyu (1992) 3 NWLR (Part 231) 598

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WITHDRAWAL TAKES EFFECT FROM THE DELIVERING OF A WRITTEN NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL

I agree with the views of Learned SAN for the 3rd respondent and Learned Counsel for the 4th respondent. It is glaring from the provision of S.31 of the Electoral Act 2022 that the withdrawal takes effect from when the nominated candidate submitted the notice of his or her withdrawal to the political party that nominated him or her. S. 31 prescribe how the withdrawal is done by the nominated candidate. It states thusly”by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by him to the political party that nominated him or her”. S. 31 prescribes what the political party should do upon receipt of its nominated candidate’s withdrawal. It states that it may convey the withdrawal to INEC not later than 90 days to the election. It is glaring from the express wordings of S.31 of the Electoral Act 2022 that the legislative intention is that the withdrawal should take effect upon the nominated candidate personally delivering a written notice of his withdrawal to the political party and not when the political party conveys it to INEC.

— E.A. Agim, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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SECTION 177 & 182 IS THE RELEVANT PROVISION FOR QUALIFICATION TO CONTEST AS GOVERNOR

Before rounding off this matter there can be no doubt that the qualification or non-qualification of a candidate for election purposes as here is within the purview of sections 177 and 182 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and not Section 34 of the Electoral Act as failure to comply with the provisions of section 34 (supra) cannot in my view succeed in disqualifying a candidate properly so sponsored by this political party. Howbeit, once a sponsored candidate has satisfied the provisions sections 177 and 182 (supra) he is qualified to stand election for the office of Governor. The 1st respondent is therefore qualified to stand election for the office of Governor for Bayelsa State having so qualified under the aforesaid provisions of the amended constitution. And I so hold.

— C.M. Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC. Kubor v. Dickson (2012) – SC.369/2012

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