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THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF SUI GENERIS NATURE OF ELECTION PETITION

Dictum

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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QUALIFICATION TO CONTEST GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION

In the Supreme Court case of AL-HASSAN V ISIHAKU 2016 10 NWLR PART 520, PG 230, the court reiterated at pages 275- 276 PARAS H-A; 277 PARAS A-F as follows; “…Where it is alleged that a person is or was not qualified to contest election into the office of Governor as envisaged by section 138(1) (a) of the Electoral Act, it is S177 and 182 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that are being contemplated. Taking the provisions together, it is seen that both the provision for qualification and that for disqualification are so comprehensive which makes them exhaustive. Thus the Constitution, as the Supreme law of the land, having such elaborate and allencompassing provisions for qualification and disqualification of persons seeking the office of Governorship of a state, does not leave any room for addition to those conditions already set out. Once a candidate sponsored by his political party has satisfied the provisions set out in S177 of the Constitution and is not disqualified under S182 (1) thereof, he is qualified to stand for election to the office of Governor of a State. No other law can disqualify him (P.D.P V INEC (2014) 17 NWLR (PT 1437) 525, Shinkafi V Yari (2016) 7 NWLR (PT 1511) 340 referred to (Pp 275, paras H_A;277 Paras A-F.”

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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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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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HOW TO PROVE FALSIFICATION OF AN ELECTION RESULT

In order to establish falsification of election result, the Petitioner must produce in evidence two sets of results; one genuine and the other false. See: KAKIH v PDP & ORS (2014) LPELR-23277(SC) at pages 51-52, paras. C-C; and NWOBODO v ONOH (1984) LPELR-2120(SC). Indeed, in ADEWALE v OLAIFA (2012) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1330) 478 at 516, this Court held that: “To prove falsification of results of an election, two sets of results one genuine and the other false must be put in evidence by the party making the accusation. After putting in evidence the two sets of results, a witness or witnesses conversant with the entries made in the result sheets must be called by the party making the accusation of falsification or forgery of results of the election to prove from the electoral documents containing the results of the election how the results of the election were falsified or made up.”

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

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WHO ARE NECESSARY RESPONDENTS IN AN ELECTION PETITION

Generally, necessary respondents in an election petition are the persons whose election or return is complained of, and the Electoral body that conducted the election. See Section 133(2) and (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022. Those are what are termed statutory respondents. It should be remembered the Election Petitions are sui generis, and its procedure strictly regulated by statute. Thus, where a person does not fall within the category of statutory respondents, they are not necessary parties in an election petition. See Agbareh v. Mimra (2008) All FWLR (pt.409) 559; APC v. PDP (2015) LPELR – 24587 (SC) and Buhari v. Yusuf (2003) 4 NWLR (pt.841) 446 at 498. Thus, in Waziri v. Gaidam (2016) 11 NWLR (pt. 1523) 230 at 265 paragraphs F-G; the Supreme Court held that: “From the above, I have no difficulty in going along with the submissions of the respective counsel for the respondent that Section 137(2) and (3) of the Electoral Act, 2010 has no room for the joinder of the 5th Respondent who neither won the election nor performed any role as electoral officer or agent of the third Respondent in the election petition challenging the result of such an election and even no relief was claimed against the said 5th respondent and indeed, he had nothing to gain or lose in the petition aforesaid.”

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. APM v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/04/2023

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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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