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Pre-election Matters Under Nigeria’s Electoral Act, 2022 and the ‘burden’ of Qualification of Candidates for Elective Positions

Pre-election Matters Under Nigeria’s Electoral Act, 2022

Pre-election Matters Under Nigeria’s Electoral Act, 2022 and the ‘burden’ of Qualification of Candidates for Elective Positions

Abstract

Pre-election matter from its name are cases whose cause of action arise prior to the main election of candidates who occupy public office. They are litigated in the regular courts particularly the Federal High Court being court of first instance. The 1999 Constitution (as amended) has clearly defined and prescribed matters of contest as pre-election case, while the Electoral Act, 2022 further expatiates grounds or issues that should underline such action such as qualification of candidates, amongst others. This paper examines the said grounds and other issues under these laws and their interpretation by our Courts. It also highlights and discusses the roles of political parties, candidates and the Independent National Electoral Commission in ensuring that the laudable objectives of the law are actualised in the progressive march towards credible elections and good governance in Nigeria. The paper also makes recommendations on the way forward. Doctrinal method of research is adopted in the paper.

Introduction

The 1999 Constitution (as amended) defined pre-election matters in a clear and lucid manner in a bid to avoid conjecture, under section 285(14) thereof.

It refers to ‘any suit by an aspirant wherein he complains that any of the provisions of the Electoral Act or any Act of the National Assembly regulating the conduct of the primaries of political parties and the provisions of the guidelines of a political party for the conduct of party primary has not been complied with by a political party in respect of the selection or nomination of candidates for an election’.

It is also any suit by an aspirant challenging the action, decision or activities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in respect of his participation in an election or who complains that the provisions of the Electoral Act or any other law regulating elections in Nigeria has not been complied with by INEC in respect of the selection or nomination of candidates and participation in an election. By section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution, a political party may also bring an action challenging the action, decisions and activities of the Commission on grounds of either disqualifying its candidate from participating in the election or a complaint that the provisions of the Electoral Act or any other applicable law has not been complied with1).

Recall that under the repealed Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), one of the five grounds of presenting an election petition is ‘that the petitioner or its candidate was validly nominated but was unlawfully excluded from the election’. By removing this ground of petition from being raised after election to an earlier stage (pre-election) the law will safeguard elections which could ordinarily have been voided or cancelled based on such inadvertence, failure or neglect of the Commission, as absence of party logo from ballot paper, exclusion of candidates’ names from displayed names published for election, etc.

Pre-election matters under the present regime must be commenced within 14 days from the date of occurrence of facts or decisions complained of, otherwise it becomes statute barred.

Thus, pre-election matters essentially emanate from the conduct of primary election by political parties, as well as action and decisions of INEC arising from such primaries, and/or as part of preparation for the main election. The qualification for each elective position has also been clearly provided under the Constitution, and it behoves on political parties and individuals vying for such positions to ensure they meet such requirements of law. The paper considers these and related issues of frequent arguments under the present legal regime in Nigeria.

Locus Standi in Pre-election Matters: the Osagie Case

The question of who can sue in pre-election matters and the grounds of such suit has been a legal burden in Nigeria until it was laid to rest following a Constitutional amendment to that effect and the enactment of the present Electoral Act, 2022. Section 285(14)(a),(b) and (c) mentions ‘any aspirant’ to the party primary and the political party itself affected by a decision of INEC. This is also re-enforced by section 84 of the Electoral Act.

With respect to aspirants, the decision in Osagie & Ors v. Enoghama & Ors2 illustrate and explain the position of law. The facts are straight-forward: the appellants were elected as Ad-Hoc delegates of PDP (the 5th respondent) from the 192 Wards of Edo State in their Ward Congresses. But their names were later replaced with that of the 1st – 4th respondents.

They therefore approached the High Court and obtained an order restraining the 5th and 6th respondents from recognising the said 1st – 4th respondents as Ward delegates. The issue for determination before the Supreme Court, among others, is whether, upon proper construction of the provisions of Article 15(2)(e) of the constitution of the 1st defendant (as amended in 2017), Article 1(b)(i) of Part 1 and Article (xii) of Part 2 (Page 9) of the Electoral Guideline for Primary Election of 13/3/2022 of the 1st defendant as well as section 85(5)(a)-(e) and (8) of the Electoral Act, 2022, a person who was not duly elected at the Wards Congress of the 1st defendant can be presented by the 1st defendant as an Ad-Hoc Delegate? The apex court had this to say with respect to the locus standi of the parties to the action:

‘It is the selection of the party’s candidate in a primary election without complying with the Electoral Act and the party guideline that create the cause of action under section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and vesting in an aspirant a right of action for redress. In this case, no primary election has been held before the suit was filed and no candidate had been elected from any primary election contrary to the Electoral Act, the party constitution and guidelines… there was no cause of action under S. 84(14) of the Electoral Act. The appellants, not being aspirants in any primary election that had selected a candidate of the party for an election contrary to the Electoral Act and the party Guideline, have no right of action concerning any such primary election. The appellants filed this suit leading to this appeal for the purpose of protecting or preserving their status as the 1st respondents ward ad hoc delegates elected on 30-4-2022 from the 192 wards of Edo State and protect their right to vote as such delegates during the May 2022 primary elections of the 1st respondent’s candidates for 2023 general elections. There is no law that gives delegates elected to vote in a primary election of candidates of a political party for a general election, the right of action to protect or preserve their status as such delegates or protect their right to vote during such primary elections. The refusal of their political party to recognise them as such delegates or to allow the vote in primary election to elect the party’s candidates, would not give such delegates legal cause of action by an aspirant in the primary election after a candidate has been selected under section 84(14) of the Electoral Act’3.

The Court also referred to an earlier decision in Ardo v. Nyako4 where it held that pre- primary matters are within the domestic and internal affairs of political parties which courts have no jurisdiction to entertain. Thus, pre-election matters under section 84(14) of the Electoral Act are limited only to aspirants, political parties and the electoral umpire as parties having capacity to sue and be sued5.

Clearly, a political party or its candidate cannot challenge the primary election of another political party or its candidates, under the present legal regime.

Examining Sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022

Section 29 of the Electoral Act, 2022 deals with the submission of list of candidates and their affidavits by political parties to INEC. The candidates must have been elected from a valid primary election of the party, and the list must be submitted within 180 days before the general election in the prescribed form, and shall be accompanied with an affidavit sworn to by the candidate at a High Court, showing that he has fulfilled all conditions by the Constitution for the respective position. Section 29(4) and (5) then provides:

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(4) Any person may apply to the Commission for a copy of nomination form, affidavit and any other document submitted by a candidate at an election and the Commission shall, upon payment of a prescribed fee, issue such person with a certified copy of the document within 14 days.

(5) Any aspirant who participated in the primaries of his political party who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by his political party’s candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate in relation to his constitutional requirements to contest the election is false, may file a suit at the Federal High Court against that candidate seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.’

From the above quoted provisions, it may be observed that whereas certified copies of documents submitted to INEC by candidates for an election may be obtained by ‘any person’ upon application and payment of prescribed fees, only ‘aspirants’ who contested or participated in the party primary can challenge same in court. Obviously, the grounds to challenge a candidate’s emergence must be based on any of the constitutional requirements and qualification for the particular office. And that must also be the basis of the court’s decision in affirming or disqualifying the candidate.

To explain further, in the case of office of Governor for instance, section 177 of the Constitution provides that the candidate shall (a) be a citizen of Nigeria by birth; (b) have attained the age of thirty-five years; (c) 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. Thus, a gubernatorial aspirant from the same political party who challenges the documents and qualification of another aspirant must bring such suit under the conditions in section 177 or prove the facts of disqualification under section 1826.

In comparison with the repealed Electoral Act, 2010, one of the grounds of election petition under section 134(1)(e) of that law was ‘that the person whose election is questioned has submitted to the Commission affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the election’.

The present law does not contain any such ground. By enacting section 29 as it is, it achieved three important objectives: First, objections on false or misleading information or misrepresentation in affidavit of candidates for any public office can only be litigated as pre-election stage, which must be commenced within 14 days of the submission of the alleged false particulars and documents to the Commission otherwise the action will abate.

It has been held (and indeed settled) that cause of action in such in such case arises from the date the defendant submitted the alleged documents to INEC, including the date of such submission, and not when the plaintiff became aware of the false information or misrepresentation7. Secondly, action of such nature bordering on false information of any candidate can only be instituted by fellow aspirants from within the same political party. A contestant outside that political party have no right of action, just as other members of the public. They may, if they so wish apply to INEC for documents submitted by aspirants for knowledge’s sake, but cannot question same. Although it is to admitted that the objective of this provision is to prevent litigation from all quarters against prospective aspirants, the implication may be far- reaching. Where for instance, there is a consensus candidate (as is usually the case) in a political party, whose information submitted to INEC is questionable, he may ascend to public office unchallenged as the conscience of the people.

Thirdly, false information of ‘fundamental nature to aid qualification’ must now relate only to “constitutional qualifications” for the particular office concerned, and no other. The constitutional qualifications are those contained in sections 66, 67, 106, 107, 131, 137, 177 and 187, which are essentially the same qualifications across board for the elective positions in the country. By law, a political party shall not impose any nomination qualification or disqualification criteria, measures, or conditions on any aspirant or candidate for any election in its constitution, guidelines, or rules for nomination of candidates for elections except these basic qualifications outlined above8.

Section 84 on the other hand provides for nomination of candidates by political parties, and also the qualification for candidates with reference to the Constitution. The crucial provision here is section 84 (14), which provides as follows:

‘Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act or rules of a political party, an aspirant who complains that any of the provisions of this Act and the guidelines of a political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election, may apply to the Federal High Court for redress.’

Again, this provision affirms and preserve the right of ‘an aspirant’ of a primary election to sue in court for redress in the event of non-compliance with the Electoral Act or guidelines of the political party concerned. It is immaterial that the constitution of the political party contains provisions which prohibits any aspirant from suing other contestants of the party or the party itself. Thus, the above provision and indeed, the entire sections 84 and 29 of the Electoral Act, 2022 creates exceptions to the principle of party supremacy9. The justification for this statutory provision is obvious: that a court will not allow a political party to act arbitrarily as it likes to the injury of its members10.

The redress in this case will be to declare the candidate with the second highest number of valid votes cast at the election as the winner since the court has no jurisdiction to stop a primary election, or even stop a general election11. Reading through the provisions of section 84, it is obvious a court may order a fresh primary in the event or irregularity and where the general election has not been conducted.

The recent decision of the apex court in PDP v. Lawal while interpreting the provisions of section 84(14) is instructive. The facts are crucial. As part of preparations for the 2023 general elections, the 1st Appellant on 30th April, 2022, conducted ward congresses whereby ad-hoc delegates were elected, with a view to participating in the indirect elections of the 1st Appellant’s gubernatorial candidates in Ogun State. For the purpose of the gubernatorial exercise, the 2nd Appellant (Mr. Oladipupo Adebuto) and 1st Respondent were cleared and screened by the 1st Appellant to contest the indirect primary election. At the conclusion of the said indirect primary election, the 2nd Appellant emerged with 714 votes and was declared winner.

It is the 1 st Respondent’s contention that the 1st Appellant did not use the Register/List of democratically elected delegates, rather the 1st Appellant used a different Register/List. At the Supreme Court, one of he issues for determination was ‘Whether the Court of Appeal was right when they held that the Federal High Court has the jurisdictional competence to determine the suit of the 1st Respondent under Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act 2022 and Section 285(14) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), when the substance of the 1st Respondent’s suit was actually which list of ad-hoc delegates should have been sent (sic) to conduct the 1st Appellant’s Ogun State Governorship Primary/election of 25th May, 2022 which was not justiciable being an internal affair of the 1st Appellant’.

The Court held that section 84(14) was an exception to the non-justiciability of political parties’ internal affairs, especially as it is a jurisdiction expressly donated by the Constitution and Electoral Act. Despite the obstante clause ‘Notwithstanding anything…’ at the beginning of section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022, just as section 87(9) of the repealed Electoral Act, 2010, the court has described it as a ‘small window’ and ‘narrow confine’ for an aggrieved aspirant who complains that in the selection of its candidate, his political party did ‘not comply with the provisions of the Act or its constitution and electoral guidelines12. The provision thus, creates a right to seek redress in court and exception to the rule against court’s jurisdiction in internal affairs of political parties.

No doubt, the present legal regime is commendable, among other things, for streamlining pre-election matters and their timelines on one hand, and also properly limiting the scope of election petitions on the other hand.

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The Mandatory  ‘burden’ of Constitutional Qualification: the Degi-eremienyo Case

Perhaps no other case best illustrates the need for candidates and political parties to ensure that Constitutional qualification for elective positions is met as the case of PDP & Ors v. Degi-Eremienyo & Ors13. The facts are interesting.

The 2nd respondent (David Lyon) won the nomination to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He in turn nominated the 1st respondent as his running mate. Both 1st and 2nd respondents were APC candidates for the offices of Deputy-Governor and Governor of Bayelsa State respectively. It was a joint ticket on the platform of the APC.

The APC, in compliance with Section 31(1) of the Electoral Act, 2018 (as amended) (similar to the present section 29 of the Electoral Act, 2022) submitted the names and personal information and particulars of the 1st and 2nd respondents to INEC, and the same contained in INEC Form CF001 for each of the 1st and 2nd respondents. The 1st respondents Form CF001 duly sworn to by him was published.

Pursuant to Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, 2010, the appellants approached the Federal High Court claiming that the information contained therein were false. They sought the Federal High Court to invoke Section 31(6) Electoral Act to disqualify the 1st respondent (and consequentially the 2nd respondent) from contesting the election. They predicated their action on the fact that the 1st respondent presented false information in his Form CF001 to the 4th respondent (INEC) in support of his nomination.

They alleged inter alia that in his sworn INEC Form CF001 other than in his name: Biobarakuma DegiEremienyo.

i. The name in his First School Leaving Certificate issued in 1976 Degi, Biobragha.
ii. His WAEC/GCE, 1984 bears the name Adegi Brokumo.
iii. His first degree bears the name- Degi Biobarakuma Wangawa.
iv. In his affidavit of Correction and Confirmation of name sworn to on 9 August, 2018, he asserted that his correct name is Biobarakuma Degi.
v. In another affidavit of regularisation of name sworn to on 18 September 2018, he averred that his correct name is Biobarakuma Wanagha Degi Eremienyo.
vi. In another affidavit of 18 September 2018 deposed before an unnamed notary public on a letter heading: Stanley Damabide & Partners, he averred that while registering for WASCE examination “the alphabet “A” was inadvertently added to (his) surname to read thus – Biobarakuma Wanagba Adegi and same was captured in the certificate he obtained therefrom.
vii. In the said affidavit of 18 September 2018, he further averred that later in time he took chieftaincy title and by Nembe custom he added Eremienyo to his surname and his full name reads: Biobrakuma Wanagha Adegi-Eremienyo.
viii. On the statutory declaration of age dated 31 July 1990, it was declared that the 1st respondent bearing the name Biobarakuma Degi was born on 22 February 1959. The deponent, Henry Vanman, described himself (at page 65) as the uncle of the 1st respondent.
ix. On his Form CF001 (at page 531) the 1st respondent gave his name as DegiEremienyo, Biobarakuma Wanaghwa. x. By the change of name published in the Chronicles Newspapers of 20 July 2018, (as page 91) the 1st respondent announced the change of his name from Biobarakuma Wamagha Degi to Biobarakuma Wanagha Degi- Eremienyo.

It is on these facts not dispute (in fact admitted by the 1st respondent) that the appellant sought the Federal High Court to declare that the 1st respondent had given false information by the fact of his multiplicity of names. The trial Federal High Court agreed with the that the 1st respondent gave false information to INEC. It therefore invoked Section 31(6) of the Electoral Act and disqualified 1st respondent (and consequentially the 2nd respondent) from contesting the governorship election in Bayelsa State.

On appeal to the Court of Appeal, it allowed the appeal on several grounds, wherein the appellant then approached the Supreme Court. The apex reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. It concluded thus:

‘…Section 182(1)(j) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), provides that no person shall be qualified for election to the office of governor of a state if he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission. The certificate used here is in small letters. It bears its ordinary natural meaning. It is here used a noun that derives from the verb: certify which means to – attest, testify, vouch, ascertain, verify. The word “forged” qualifies “certificate” in this provision. In my humble view, the word forged used here is in the context of fabricating, framing, falsifying, inventing a false attestation, vouching falsely…The sanction for presenting INEC Form CF001 containing false facts about the personal particulars or information of the candidate by virtue of section 31(6) of the Electoral Act is an order issued by the High Court disqualifying such candidate from contesting that election…The sum total is that the joint ticket of the 1st and 2nd respondents sponsored by the 3rd respondent was vitiated by the disqualification of the 1st respondent. Both candidates disqualified are deemed not to be candidates at the Governorship election conducted in Bayelsa State. It is hereby ordered that INEC, (the 4th respondent herein) declare as winner of the governorship election in Bayelsa State, the candidate with the highest number of lawful votes cast with the requisite constitutional (or geographical) spread.’

Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) is the present section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 with the amendment: ‘Any aspirant who participated in the primaries of his political party …’ replacing ‘Any person…’ in the old law. Also, the

suit is now to be brought before the Federal High Court. Being a pre-election matter, which gave ‘any person’ the locus to institute an action on grounds of false information under the enabling constitutional provisions, it empowered the appellants to commence the action14. Although only fellow aspirants in the same political party can now sue, political parties have a duty to ensure their candidates presented or nominated for elective positions meet the mandatory requirement stipulated in the law. The Constitutional eligibility for elective positions as prescribed in the law are therefore not optional or negotiable.

The Role of Political Parties, Candidates and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

The Role of Political Parties

Constitutionally, it is clearly provided as part of qualification for any elective positions in Nigeria, that a candidate must be a member of a political party registered in Nigeria, and must be sponsored by that party15). This means that there is no provision for independent candidature under our law, which makes political parties critical stakeholders in the electoral process.

Membership of political parties in most cases are ascribed to registration at Ward level in the various Local Governments Areas across the country from where recognition at State and National levels are derived.

However, more often than not, membership recognition is left at the whims and caprice of few powerful individuals to determine candidates to be sponsored in an election, which trend often leads to factions in most political parties in Nigeria. In selecting candidates for elections, it is not news that most political parties in the country lack internal democracy which leads to rancour, parallel primaries and disaffection among members of that party.

Section 84(2) of the Electoral Act recognises three modes of nominating candidates for elective positions, namely: direct and indirect primaries and by consensus. It is expected that any mode adopted by a party prior to an election should be as provided as its constitution, and well communicated to its members, and the procedure for that particular mode must be complied in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

For instance, by section 84(9) of the Electoral Act, a political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate. This is mandatory, failure of which the party in question must revert to direct or indirect, with its outlined procedures in the Electoral Act16.

With respect to qualification, section 84(3) of the Electoral Act, provides that a political party shall not impose nomination qualification or disqualification criteria, measures, or conditions on any aspirant or candidate for any election in its constitution, guidelines, or rules for nomination of candidates for elections, except as prescribed under sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 177 and 187 of the Constitution.

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Thus, even where a party adopts a consensus candidate, such candidate still needs to be screened to ensure he or she possess the basic qualification, such as education, citizenship, etc. which has constantly become a subject of contention in courts, and which may in fact, lead to disqualification at the election petition stage.

Political parties have a duty to constantly educate their members and delegates to party Congresses in particular, on their responsibility to the nation which should be placed above personal interests and gains. Political parties in Nigeria should also ensure they stick to clear-cut ideologies which must be tied to deliverable and realistic campaign promises.

The Role of Candidates

Aspirants and candidates vying for elective positions must look at the Constitutional qualifications for that particular office. The issue of forged educational certificate or other certificates which has become common place in almost all pre-election and election cases must be tackled.

It can only take a false or fraudulent individual to misrepresent facts or figures, all in a bid to win an election. A candidate for elective position (and indeed all category of leaders in the society) must be sincere to themselves, and ensure they possess the qualification outlined by law. They must play the game by the rules. They also have a duty to place national interest above personal and party interest.

Candidates who lose as primary elections should also rally support for the winner to ensure their party’s victory at the general polls, and avoid pre- election litigations that prove needless point.

The Role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

The Commission must ensure adequate supervision of primaries of political parties, to ensure conformity to the Electoral Act, and Guidelines released for the election. This is especially with regards to each procedure for nominating a candidate to represent the parties concerned.

The Commission has a duty to scrutinise documents of candidates submitted to is, to ensure they are valid. A primary election fraught with irregularities, disputable factions and malpractices should not be recognised, just like candidates that emerge therefrom, even if it is the party in power.

It is suggested that, to ensure credible and true credentials, the Commission may independently verify their authenticity, and make its findings public in the interest of the nation. Also, staff and representatives of the Commission should at all times be seen to be impartial and neutral in the implementation of the provisions of the electoral law.

Recommendations/conclusion

The amendments to the 1999 Constitution so far and the enactment of the Electoral Act, 2022 are indeed commendable, particularly with regards to the timelines for both pre-election matters and their appeals and the election petition itself. However, more still needs to be done. Sections 76(2), 116(2), 132(2) and 178(2) of the Constitution provides for the period within which election into the various positions must be conducted.

It is recommended that the above provisions be amended, to provide for sufficient time for all pre-election and election matters to be concluded before the duly elected and affirmed candidates take oath of office. At the moment, although almost all pre-election matters are being conclusively determined with their appeals before election before elections, some still linger after the election into respective office have been concluded, but usually before swearing in.

Timely conclusion of pre-election matters before elections will aid the candidate in concentrating on their campaigns and the job ahead, in addition to help the Commission and political parties channel its resources and energies towards the election with all its demands.

Secondly, section 29(6) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides thus: ‘Where the Court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit is false only as it relates to constitutional requirements of eligibility, the Court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate and the sponsoring political party and then declare the candidate with the second highest number of valid votes and who satisfies the constitutional requirement as the winner of the election.’ This provision as it is, appear to be ambiguous, and ought to be amended by deleting the phrase ‘and the sponsoring political party’, in order to make the order of court declaring the candidate with second highest number of valid votes of the same party, contemplated by the sub- section, to be meaningful. Since a court cannot recognise the runner-up of a political party it has disqualified, the order disqualifying the winner of the primary for lack of constitutional eligibility should affect him alone, and not with his party.

Thirdly, section 115(1)(k) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides that: ‘Any person who signs a nomination paper consenting to be a candidate at an election knowing that he or she is ineligible to be a candidate at that election, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum term of imprisonment for two years.’ Thus, presenting oneself as a candidate for an election without qualification is an offence under the law.

In addition, section 29(8) provides that a political party which presents to the Commission the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualification stipulated in this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N10,000,000.

This means candidates who are disqualified on grounds of non-eligibility ought to be charged and tried for such offences by the authorities concerned, chiefly INEC or the ICPC. At the moment. it is unheard of any reported case of charges against a candidate for an election who was disqualified by the court. This will serve as a deterrent to others, and reduce the tendency towards fraud and falsification of documents prevalent in the electoral process.

There is the need for synergy between the relevant institutions and stakeholders in the country such as, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties and their candidates, the courts, and others, in ensuring that the objectives of the relevant laws are actualised, in a bid to advance Nigeria’s growing democracy.


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About Author

Chidiebere A. Akalugwu studied law at University of Abuja, Nigeria, and the Nigerian Law School, and was subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar. He has been engaged in rigorous legal practice since then. He holds a Master’s degree in law, and is currently a serving Magistrate with the Imo State Judiciary. He was appointed in 2019.
Email: [email protected]
Contact: +2347037781823.

  1. Aguma v. APC & Ors (2021) LCER-40458 (SC []
  2. SC/CV/980/2022. Delivered on 30/9/2022 []
  3. Per Agim, JSC []
  4. (2014) 14 NWLR (Part 1416) 591 []
  5. Wushishi v. Imam (2017) LCER-32297 (SC); A.P.G.A. v. Anyanwu & Ors. (2014) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1407) 541; Uwazurike v. Nwachukwu (2013) 20 WRN 52; (2013) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1342) 503 at 526, PDP v. Sylva (2012) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1316) 85 at 148 C – D, Lado v. CPC (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 607) 598 at 622 – 623. The apex court held repeatedly while interpreting sections 31 and 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) similar to the present sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022, that a complainant must bring himself squarely within the ‘narrow confines’ of the provisions, that is, he must be an aspirant, and his complaint must arise from non- compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Guidelines of the political party. []
  6. PDP & Ors v. Degi-Eremionyo & Ors (2020) LLJR-SC []
  7. Shittu v. INEC & Ors (2023) LPELR-59826 (SC); Abdullahi v. Loko & Ors (2022) LPELR-57578 (SC); Karshi & Ors v. Gwagwa & Ors (2022) LPELR57544 (SC): Bello v. Yusuf & Ors (2019) LPELR- 47918 (SC); Eze v. Umahi (2022) LPELR-59157 (SC) []
  8. Section 84(3) Electoral Act, 2022 []
  9. Party supremacy is the principle to the effect that courts have no jurisdiction over domestic and internal affairs of political parties. See also Ardo v. Nyako (supra); Lado v. C.P.C. (2011) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1279) 689; P.D.P. v. Sylva (2012) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1316) 85; Gwede v. I.N.E.C. (2014) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1438) 56. Issues bordering of pre- primary are still outside court’s jurisdiction. []
  10. Osoh v. APC & Ors (2023) LCER-48016 (SC) []
  11. Section 84(15) Electoral Act, 2022 []
  12. Kente v. Bwacha & Ors (2023) LCER-48018 (SC); Uba v. Moghalu (2022) LPELR-57876 (SC); Lau v. P.D.P. & Ors. (2017) LPELR – 42800 (SC); Agi v. P.D.P. (2016) LPELR-42578 (SC). []
  13. (2020) LLJR-SC []
  14. Dide v. Seleketimibi (2009) LPELR-4038 (CA) []
  15. See also sections 65(2)(b), 106(d), 131(c) and 177(c) CFRN 1999 (as amended []
  16. Section 84(10) Electoral Act, 2022 []

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