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

Dictum

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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DESPITE ELECTIONS BEING SUI GENERIS, THEY ARE GOVERNED BY THE EVIDENCE ACT

It is important to note here that although Election petitions are sui generis, they are governed by the Evidence Act. See BUHARI V. OBASANJO (2005) 2 NWLR (PT. 910) 241; APC V PDP & ORS (2015) LPELR-24587(SC). — H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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CANNOT TESTIFY ON POLLING UNIT RESULT IF NOT POLLING UNIT AGENT

This witness is not fit to testify on polling unit result not being a polling unit agent. His testimony on the polling unit is hearsay and shall therefore be discountenanced with … The testimony of PW26 is not reliable in this case. Testimony was to the effect that he was the Party Chairman, and never served as an Agent in any of the polling units or wards but monitored the election. His testimony can at best be described as hearsay and not reliable. We so hold.

— K.M. Akano, J. Edeoga v Mbah (2023) – EPT/EN/GOV/01/2023

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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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FRESH PRIMARY ELECTION IS NOT NEEDED FOR SUBSTITUTED VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

By the proviso thereto, the political party affected, is enjoined to conduct a fresh primary election for the purpose of producing a new or fresh candidate to submit to the Electoral Commission. The grouse of the Petitioner here is that, the 5th Respondent withdrew his nomination as Vice-Presidential candidate of 2nd Respondent but the 2nd Respondent did not conduct another primary election for the purpose of producing a new Vice-Presidential candidate within the 14 days prescribed by Section 33 of the Electoral Act. It should be remembered that by Section 142(1) of the 1999 Constitution, a Presidential candidate for election to the office of President has the sole discretion, authority or power of nominating his associate who shall run with him in the election as Vice-President. The choice or nomination of a Vice-Presidential candidate is, not the product of any primary election. Therefore, in my view, the requirement to conduct a fresh primary election does not apply to the nomination of a Vice-Presidential candidate. Thus, my Lord Augie, JSC highlighted the point in his contributory judgment in PDP v. INEC & 3 Ors (Exhibit X1) as follows: “No; the fourth Respondent was not required to buy any nomination Form. He was the second Respondent (APC’s) candidate at the election into the office of Senator representing Borno Central Senatorial District. But before the election could hold, he was nominated as the third Respondent’s associate, who is to occupy the office of Vice President. The fourth Respondent did not buy a nomination Form for the said office, and most importantly, did not contest any primary election in order to emerge as APC’s Vice-Presidential candidate.”

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

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FORGERY IN INEC FORM MUST BE PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBTS

False information in INEC Form EC9 which is an affidavit, amounts to lying on oath and is invariably, a crime. Being a crime, its commission must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

– Aboki JSC. APC v. Obaseki (2021)

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ONLY A PRACTICE WHICH IS CONTRARY TO THE ELECTORAL ACT CAN BE A GROUND TO QUESTION AN ELECTION

As I stated earlier, the electronic transmission of results of an election is not expressly stated anywhere in the Electoral Act, but was only introduced by the 1st Respondent in its Regulations and Guidelines, 2022 and in the INEC Manual for Election Officials, 2023. By Section 134(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 only an act or omission which is contrary to the Electoral Act, 2022 can be a ground for questioning an election. Thus, complaints relating to non-compliance with provisions of the Regulations and Guidelines or the Manual of Election Officials are not legally cognizable complaints for questioning an election. In interpreting Section 138(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010, which is similar to Section 134(2) of the extant Electoral Act, 2022, the Supreme Court held in NYESOM V PETERSIDE (supra), at page 66 67, paras. F-C, as follows: “The above provisions appear to be quite clear and unambiguous. While the Electoral Commission is duly conferred with powers to issue regulations, guidelines or manuals for the smooth conduct of elections, by Section 138(2) of the Act, so long as an act or omission regarding such regulations or guidelines is not contrary to the provisions of the Act itself, it shall not of itself be a ground for questioning the election.” See also: JEGEDE v INEC (2021) LPELR-55481(SC) at 25 – 26 at paras. A – D.

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

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