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RESULT ANNOUNCED BY INEC IS PRESUMED TO BE CORRECT

Dictum

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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ONLY POLLING UNIT AGENT CAN GIVE TESTIMONY OF WHAT TRANSPIRED IN THE POLLING UNIT

In PDP & ANOR V INEC & ORS (2019) LPELR-48101(CA), this Court Per Agim, JCA (as he then was) held that it is only a Polling Unit agent or a person who was present at a Polling Unit during polls that can give admissible evidence of what transpired during the poll in that unit. See also GOYOL & ANOR V. INEC & ORS (2012) 11 NWLR (PT. 1311) 207, 218 and BUHARI V. INEC & ORS (PT.1120) 246, 424 … Under our law, specifically in Section 43 of the Electoral Act, 2022, Polling Agents are permitted to be appointed by Political Parties for each Polling Unit and collation centre. The wisdom in this is for each of the political parties involved in an election to be represented by its own agents. The duties of an agent are to represent the interest of his/her principal. Having regard to the fact that no mortal man can be in all the places at the same time, the law allows political parties to have their agents at all polling units and collation centres. It is therefore not anticipated by the law for any political party to appoint an octopus agent with his tentacles in all the polling units and collation centres. This is humanly not practicable. When, therefore, evidence is required to prove what happened in any polling unit or a collation centre, it is only the agent who witnessed the anomaly or the malfeasance that can legally and credibly testify. See BUHARI V. OBASANJO (SUPRA); OKE & ANOR V. MIMIKO (SUPRA) AND ANDREW V. PDP (SUPRA).

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

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DEFECTIVE VOTERS REGISTER USED FOR AN ELECTION

Whereas the process of compiling a Voters Register is a pre-election matter, the use to which an alleged fundamentally defective Voters Register so compiled is put to in an election which may substantially affect the result of the said election is clearly an issue of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, which constitutes a ground for challenging an election in a petition under section 138(l)(b) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.

— W.S.N. Onnoghen, JSC. Akeredolu v. Mimiko (2013) – SC. 352/2013

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ORDINARY COURTS HAVE JURISDICTION IN PRE-ELECTION MATTERS

The same approach adopted by the Respondents in Amaechi’s case was also adopted in the instant case. The belief was that if elections were conducted that would put an end to the appellants case or “kill his case”. The jurisdiction of ordinary court in pre-election matters is sacrosanct and the holding of such an election when the action was pending would not deprive the ordinary court of its jurisdiction to conclude the matter, even to the appeal court. It is to be noted that the appellant in this case took steps immediately he was aware of this substitution. He instituted this action before the conduct of the election and had been steadfast, believing in the judicial process that justice would be done. He did not stand by and allowed the party to be heard to fight for the election and therefore seek to take the benefit of the result of the election by proceeding to seeks for the enforcement of his right after the election. All what I have been labouring to state is that he did not sleep over his right. If this action had been instituted after the conduct and declaration of the election I would have held that the jurisdiction of the trial court to hear the pre-election matters has been over taken by event.

– Coomassie JSC. Odedo v. INEC (2008)

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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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ELECTORAL RESULT DECLARED BY INEC ENJOY PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY

Primarily, the law is well settled that the results declared by INEC (1st Respondent) in an election enjoy a presumption of regularity. In other words, they are prima facie correct. See Section 168(1) of the Evidence Act 2011, recently applied by the Supreme Court in ATUMA V. APC & ORS (2023) LPELR-60352 (SC) where JAURO, JSC held at PP 40-41 as follows: “By virtue of Section 168(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011, presumption of regularity inures in favour of judicial or official acts, including those carried out by INEC. The exact words of the subsection are thus: “When any judicial or official act is shown to have been done in a manner substantially regular, it is presumed that formal requisites for its validity were complied with.” See P.D.P. V.I.N.E.C. (2022) 18 NWLR (PT. 1863) 653, UDOM V. UMANA (NO. 1)(2016) 12 NWLR (PT. 1526) 179. Fortunately for the Appellant and 1st Respondent, it is only a presumption, which implies that it is rebuttable. Any person who questions the validity of an act in favour of which there is a presumption of regularity, has a duty to rebut the presumption with cogent and credible evidence. A flimsy or half-hearted rebuttal will not suffice.”

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

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THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF SUI GENERIS NATURE OF ELECTION PETITION

Tobi, J.S.C., in his lead judgment in Buhari v, INEC (2008) LPELR-814 (SC) p. 97 paragraph A-B: “The whole concept of Election Petition being sui generis, in my view, is to project the peculiarity of the reliefs sought, the time element and peculiar procedure adopted for the hearing of the petition and all that.”

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