White Bread, Wheat Bread and White LiesDecember 12, 2015
Rt. Hon. Prince Terhemen Tarzoor V. Ortom Samuel Ioraer & OrsJanuary 20, 2016
(Supreme Court – January, 2016)
Areas Of Law:
APPEAL, ELECTORAL LAW, LAW OF EVIDENCE, LOCUS STANDI, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, STATUTE.
Summary Of Facts:
The 1st Appellant as a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party- the 2nd Appellant, along with other candidates including the 1st Respondent, a candidate of the 2nd Respondent, the All Progressive Congress, contested in the gubernatorial elections of11th April 2015 to the office of the Governor of Zamfara State. At the end of the election, the 3rd Respondent declared the 1st Respondent the winner and returned him as the duly elected Governor of Zamfara State. Unhappy with the return of the 1st Respondent as Governor of Zamfara State, the Appellants filed a petition at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal against the Respondents on grounds that there was over- voting and failure to comply with section 85(4) of the Electoral Act in that the statutory notice was short of 21 days given to the 3rd Respondent before the conduct of the 2nd Respondent primary election to select the Governorship candidate. The Respondents in filing their replies to the petition filed notices of preliminary objections to the hearing of the petition. At the conclusion of hearing and exchange of written addresses, the Tribunal found for the Respondents and dismissed the petition. Dissatisfied with the decision of the Tribunal, the Appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal where the appeal was also dismissed. Further dissatisfied with the lower courts judgment, the Appellants have lodged the instant appeal before the apex court.
Issues For Determination
- In light of circumstances of this appeal, whether it can be said that the 2nd Respondent did not duly sponsor the 1st Respondent in his election as the Governor of Zamfara State.
- Whether the Appellants were able to prove over-voting and substantial non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act as to justify a nullification of the Gubernatorial Election in Zamfara State.
Nomination And Sponsorship Of Candidates By Political Parties – Non-Justiciability Of The Issue Of Nomination And Sponsorship Of Candidates By Political Parties
“Sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended] clearly show that they regulate the nomination of candidates for election through the internal mechanism of each political party. In other words, issue of nomination and sponsorship of candidates by political parties for election fall within the internal affairs of political parties and therefore not justiciable. See Onuoha V Okafor (1983) 2 SCNLR 244; Lado V. CPC (2012) ALL FWLR (Pt.607) 598 at 622, Nicholas Chukwuejekwu Ukachukwu V. Peoples Democratic Party and Ors. (2014) LPELR-22115 (SC)”. PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Section 85 Of The Electoral Act 2010 – Purpose Of Section 85 Of The Electoral Act 2010
“A calm consideration of Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) would reveal that the purpose of the provision is for a political party to give sufficient notice of its conventions, congresses, conferences or meetings to the 3rd Respondent i.e. INEC to enable it, if it so wishes, to monitor and observe any such event of such a political party.” PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Political Party – Effect Of Failure By A Political Party To Give Notice Of Its Congress To The Independent Electoral Commisssion (INEC)
“The Electoral Act, 2010 does not state that any party which fails to give notice of its congress etc to INEC will forfeit the right to field a candidate who emanates from such congress. The punishment for non-compliance with the provision of Section 85 thereof is as provided in Section 86(4) of the Act. It states:
“86(4) – A Political party which fails to provide the required information or clarification under sub-section (2) of this Section or carry out any lawful directive given by the commission in conformity with the provisions of this Section is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N500,000.00”. PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Nomination Of Candidate For Election – Duty Of A Political Party Seeking To Nominate Candidates For Election
“A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under the Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions. The procedure shall be either by direct or indirect primaries”. PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Nomination And Sponsorship Of Candidates By A Political Party – Nomination And Sponsorship Of Candidates By A Political Party Is Within The Discretion Of The Party
“The right to nominate or sponsor candidate by a political party is a domestic right of the party. It is a political matter within the exclusive discretion of the party. See also PDP V. Sylva (2012) LPELR – 7814 (SC) (Consolidated), Hope Uzodinma V. Senator Osita Izunaso (2011) Vol. 5 (Pt.1) MJSC P.27. Indeed the position has not changed since Onuoha V. Okafor (supra). A court has no jurisdiction to determine who a political party should sponsor in an election”. PER J. I.OKORO, J. S.C
Conduct Of The Primaries – The Courts Have Jurisdiction To Examine The Conduct Of Primaries Where There Is A Complaint By A Contestant
“However, it is now trite that where a political party conducts its primary and a dissatisfied contestant at the primary election complains about its conduct of the primaries, the courts have jurisdiction by virtue of the provision of Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to examine if the conduct of the primary was in accordance with the party’s Constitution and Guidelines. The reason is that in the conduct of its primaries, the courts will never allow a political party to act arbitrarily or as it likes. A political party must obey its Constitution”. PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Locus Standi – Who Has Locus Standi To Challenge The Nomination Of A Candidate For Election
“Only an aspirant at the primary election is permitted by Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) to challenge the selection or nomination of a person for an elective office. Apart from an aspirant who took part in the primary election, no other person is authorized to file an action to challenge the selection or nomination of a candidate by a political party for an election. PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Qualification For Election To The Office Of Governor – Conditions For Qualification For Election Into The Office Of A Governor
“177 – A person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if-
(a) He is a citizen of Nigeria by birth;
(b) He has attained the age of thirty-five years;
(c) He is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and
(d) He has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”. PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Disqualification For Election To The Office Of Governor – Conditions For Disqualification For Election Into The Office Of A Governor
“182 – No person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if-
(a) Subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria or, except in such cases as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, he has made a declaration of allegiance to such other country; or
(b) He has been elected to such office at any two previous elections; or
(c) Under the law in any part of Nigeria, he is adjudged to be a lunatic or otherwise declared to be of unsound mind; or
(d) He is under a sentence of death imposed by any competent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria or a sentence of imprisonment for any offence involving dishonesty or fraud by whatever name called) or any other offence imposed on him by any court or tribunal or substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal; or
(e) Within a period of less than ten years before the date of election to the office of Governor of a State he has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty or he has been found guilty of the contravention of the Code of Conduct; or
(f) He is an undischarged bankrupt, having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Nigeria; or
(g) Being a person employed in the public service of the Federation or of any State, he has not resigned, withdrawn or retired from the employment at least thirty days to the date of the election; or
(h) He is a member of any secret society; or
(i) Deleted (2010, No. 1)
(j) He has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission”. PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Election -Duty Of A Petitioner When Proving Over-Voting
“To prove over-voting, the law is trite that the Petitioner must do the following:
1. Tender the voters’ register.
2. Tender the Statement of Result in the appropriate forms which would show the number of registered accredited voters and number of actual votes.
3. Relate each of the documents to the specific area of his case in respect of which the documents are tendered.
4. Show that the figure representing the over-voting if removed would result in victory for the Petitioner.
See generally Haruna V. Modibbo (2004) 16 NWLR (Pt. 900) 487, Kalgo V. Kalgo (199) 6 NWLR (Pt.606) 639 and Audu V. INEC (No. 2) (2010) 13 NWLR (Pt.1212) 456”. PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Election –Ingredients A Petitioner Must Prove When Contending That An Election Be Invalidated By Reason Of Corrupt Practices
“There is no doubt that a Petitioner is entitled to contend that an election or return in an election be invalidated by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. For a Petitioner to succeed on this ground, he has to prove –
1] that the corrupt practice or non-compliance took place;
2} that the corrupt practice or non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election.
See Sections 138(l)(b) and 139(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). See also Awolowo V. Shagari (1979) All NLR120, Ibrahim V. Shagari (1983) 2 SCNLR 176, Buhari V. Obasanjo (supra) PDP V. INEC (supra).” PER J. I.OKORO,J.S.C
Election – Duty Of A Petitioner Who Alleges Over-Voting
“There is need for a Petitioner who alleges over-voting to lead concrete evidence to show that there was indeed over-voting and that it inured to the winner of the contest. Without doubt, over-voting in an election can be in favour of either the Appellant, the Respondents or other contestants who participated and lost out at the election but are not parties to the Petition.” PER J. I.OKORO, J.S.C
Nomination Of Candidate – Nomination Of Candidate For Election Is Within The Exclusive Preserve Of The Political Parties
“It is settled law that the issue of nomination of a candidate by a political party for any election is within the exclusive preserve of the political parties and that the courts have no jurisdiction to interfere therein as decided in a number of cases including Onuoha vs Okafor and ors (1983) NSCC 494; Dalhatu vs Turaki (2003) 15 NWLR (pt. 843) 310” PER W.S.N. ONNOGHEN, J.S.C
Election -Ground For Challenging An Election
“It is true that by the provisions of section 138(1) (b) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, the grounds for questioning an election or challenging same includes an allegation of “non compliance with the provisions of this Act”. PER W.S.N. ONNOGHEN, J.S.C