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PETITIONER IN AN ELECTION MUST PROVE NONCOMPLIANCE FIRST

Dictum

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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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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AN ELECTION CANNOT BE INVALIDATED BY REASON OF NONCOMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE ELECTORAL ACT

… an election cannot be invalidated by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Act if it appears to the Election Tribunal or court that the election was conducted substantially in accordance with the principles of the Act and that the non-compliance did not affect substantially the result of the election. In other words, a petitioner cannot be heard to say that an election is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the principles of the Act if it appears to the Election Tribunal or Court that the election was conducted substantially in accordance with the principles of the Act and that the non-compliance did not affect substantially the result of the election. The words “cannot be heard to say” above are trite legalism that express the notion of estoppel, as a respondent can say in defence, the petitioner cannot be heard to say that the election is invalid.

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

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

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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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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