Assuming, 15-7-2022 when the 2nd respondent filled and submitted the prescribed INEC Form for withdrawal of candidate in exhibit 6, is taken as the effective date of withdrawal, the contention that 4th respondent’s nomination as vice presidential candidate on 14-7-2022 amount to multiple nomination still remains invalid. The facts would still not show multiple nomination of the 4th respondent. What is obvious from the facts is that the 4th respondent who had earlier been nominated by his party as Senatorial candidate was given another option or alternative to be the party’s Vice Presidential candidate. He accepted the second option with a manifest intention and action to relinquish the former nomination as Senatorial candidate. He withdrew the nomination as a Senatorial candidate and was thereafter nominated as Vice Presidential candidate. Upon his withdrawal as Senatorial candidate, the party nominated another person to replace him. His prompt and immediate withdrawal as Senatorial candidate demonstrate clearly that he had no intention, design, purpose or plan to hold two nominations and be the party’s candidate in elections in two constituencies. Whether he withdrew before or after being nominated as Vice Presidential candidate is of no moment. Multiple nomination within the terms of S.35 of the Electoral Act does not occur simply because he accepted a second nomination … The sequence of the occurrence of the events is not what determines the existence of multiple nomination. It is the intention, design or purpose to hold two more nominations as candidate for election that shows that the person so nominated knowingly did so. The 2nd respondent did not intend that the 4th respondent should be its candidate for Borno Central Senatorial Election and its Vice Presidential candidate for the Presidential election and the 4th respondent did not understand or know that he was so nominated.

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

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Considering the facts pleaded above, it is clear that, the claim of disqualification or non-qualification of the 3rd Respondent is centred solely on the invalid or double nomination of the 4th Respondent. However, it is the settled law that, the issue of nomination of a candidate at an election is a pre-election matter. Therefore, the issue of qualification or disqualification can only be ventilated on the grounds enumerated in Sections 131 or 137 of the Constitution … It therefore means that, the conditions of qualification or disqualifica are those prescribed under Sections 131 and 137, in case of persons contesting for Presidential Office. That means that, where it is alleged in an election petition, that a person is or was not qualified to contest election to the office of President of Nigeria, as stipulated in Section 134(1)(a) of the Electoral Act, 2022, it is Sections 131 and 137 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that are applicable. See PDP v. INEC (2014) 17 NWLR (pt.1437) 525; Kakih v. PDP (2014) 15 NWLR (pt. 1430) 424-425, Ucha v. Onwe (2011) 4 NWLR (pt. 1237) 386 at 427 and Captain Idris Ichaila Wada & Or v. Yahaya Bello & Ors (2016) LPELR 41263 (CA). Thus, where election has been conducted and result declared, such election cannot be questioned on grounds of qualification save under Sections 131 and 137 of the Constitution, in the case of a Presidential election. This postulation is supported by Section 134(3) of the Electoral Act where it is stipulated that: “With respect to Subsection 1(a), a person is deemed to be qualified for an elective office and his election shall not be questioned on grounds of qualification if, with respect to the particular election in question, he meets the applicable requirements of Sections 65, 106, 131 or 177 of the Constitution and he is not, as may be applicable, in breach of Sections 66, 107, 137 or 182 of the Constitution.” As stated earlier, the applicable provisions are Sections 131 and 137 of the Constitution. It is clear from the plenitude of the pleadings in this petition, that the facts grounding the Petitioner’s claim of disqualification or non-qualification of the 3rd and 4th Respondents is hinged on double and invalid nomination of the 4th Respondent. I had pointed out earlier in the course of this Ruling that, the issue of qualification or disqualification of a candidate at an election is strictly a requirement of the Constitution. It is held by the Supreme Court in Alhassan & Anor v. Ishaku & Ors (2016) LPELR 40083 (SC) That: “…, by virtue of the provisions of Section 138(1)(a) of the Electoral Act, a Tribunal’s power to decide whether a person is qualified to contest an election is restricted to establishing the requirements of Section 177 and 182 of the Constitution against the adverse party. An Election Tribunal has no jurisdiction to inquire into the primaries of a political party.”

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

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