Democracy

 

Severance of Pleadings and Election Petitions in Nigeria: A Narrow Path to Justice

 

By Faith O. Osadolor Ph.D., Associate Professor of Law, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Abstract

Elections being a major plank of democracy is the process of transmitting the consent of the governed to governmental authority. Ipso facto, the purpose of election laws is to obtain a correct expression of the intent of the voters, without imposing unnecessary and unreasonable restraint on that right. Against this background, when an election does not reflect the genuine intention of the voters, the electoral laws provide for electoral adjudicatory mechanism, that can be invoked by election petitions in the appropriate tribunal or court. The standard of proof of election petitions, where allegations of crime are made, is proof beyond reasonable doubt. This standard of proof has become a veritable handmaid of the judiciary to dispense injustice to the petitioners when it so desires. The lame attempt by the judiciary to introduce the doctrine of severance of pleadings to cure the manifest injustice, gravitates more to complicate the malady. The essence of this paper, therefore, is to make a clarion call for legislative intervention to usher in a regime of electoral justice in Nigeria.

 

Introduction

Periodic election is a major plank of democracy. No election is worth it in a democracy if it does not reflect the true intention of the electorates. It is against this background that there are election laws that could precipitate a grievance procedure culminating in election petitions. The purpose of election laws was aptly stated in the United States of America’s case of Jacob v. Seminole County Canvassing Board,[1] thus: “The purpose of election laws is to obtain a correct expression of the intent of the voters, without imposing unnecessary and unreasonable restraint on that right….”.[2]

The Supreme Court of Nigeria made the infallible point in the case of Okechukwu v. INEC[3] that when an election does not reflect the genuine intention of the voters, the electoral laws provide for an electoral adjudicatory mechanism. According to the Court:

.…the law maker recognizes the fact that elections in Nigeria or anywhere else for that matter is not conducted by angels or perfect beings. Like every human endeavour, elections conducted by human beings are subject to the frailties of man. [4]

Against this background, election being a desperate game in the hands of the players in Nigeria, by an innocent intention or deliberate mischief, election could fall short of reflecting the intention of voters. The case of Adun v. Osunde,[5] is illustrative of what could be innocent intention or deliberate mischief in election matters. In response to the allegation that there was inflation of the election results, the second witness in that case stated as follows: “It is possible that I miscalculated the votes having not slept for two days”.[6]

Election petition is therefore indispensable in a democratic election as it seeks to bring about electoral justice to the extent that the ultimate judgement reflects the true and genuine intention of the electorates. In tandem with the unimpeachable position that election petition is indispensable in a democratic election, Professor Itse Sagay,[7] after reviewing the Court of Appeal decision in the case of Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru and Anor. v. Dr Emmanuel Ewetan Uduagha & Ors.,[8] offered the following immortal words:

 

In the light of the total mockery of elections and democracy that characterized the 2007 Governorship elections in Delta State, the Court of Appeal felt compelled to state the following hard and unpalatable truths about the electoral process: “in the circumstance, we have no choice than to enter an order dismantling his (Uduaghan’s] over three and half years illegal occupancy of the Government house which is the very symbol of the peoples’ mandate: indeed, his illegal habitation of the said government house for the said period of time is a mockery and indeed, an affront to the indefeasible rights of the electorates in Delta State to elect their Governor through a free and fair contest.  

It is unfortunate that the law would permit this sort of anomalous situation: an unfortunate situation where a man who usurped the sacred mandate of the people would be allowed to fritter away their common patrimony without their due authorization: authorization that should come through free and fair elections where the said electorates, in whom sovereignty resides in a democracy, are afforded the opportunity of exercising their franchise. It is arguable whether this state of affairs could be permitted to endure in other civilized jurisdictions! [9]

 

Herein lies the indispensability of election petitions in Nigeria’s democracy.

 

Concept of Election

The Electoral Act[10] appears not to be of much assistance in the definition of election as it defines election to mean any “‘election’ held under this Act and includes a referendum”.[11] It is submitted that the above definition is at best literally begging the question as per the definition of election. The Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary,[12] defines election as the selecting of a person or persons for office, as by ballot. Any choice or act of choosing. In the same vein, the Webster’s New World Dictionary[13] defines election simply as choosing or being chosen for office by vote.

It is pertinent to observe that the Nigerian judiciary in a plethora of cases has defined the word election irrespective of the lacuna in the successive Electoral Acts[14] to define election. In the case of Nyanko v. Balewa,[15] the Court noted the distinction between “election” and the “return” being questioned in a petition, pursuant to the Electoral Act.[16] The Court observed that it would mean giving a restricted meaning to the word “election”, to give a meaning synonymous with the word “poll”. The Court then came to the decision that the word “election” should be interpreted in a wider sense. In its wisdom, the Court, per Reed SPJ, stated the meaning of election succinctly thus:

I think it should include all proceedings from the issue of the writ for the election to the endorsement and return of the writ.[17]

In the case of Attorney-General of the Federation v. All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP] & 2 Ors.,[18] the Court of Appeal, per George Adesola Oguntade JCA, on the meaning of election in the context of the Constitution,[19] stated as follows:

Although the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has not defined the word “election”, it is generally held to mean the action or an instance of choosing by vote one or more of the candidates for a position especially a political office (A.S. Hornby’s Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, Fifth Edition]. In a democratic dispensation such as ours, it is a process where candidates are, by popular votes chosen to occupy:

1.     Office of the President

2.     Office of the Vice President

3.     Office of the State governor

4.     Office of the deputy governor

5.     Members of the national assembly

6.     Members of the state House of assembly

7.     Chairman of local government council in the federation

8.     Vice chairman of local government councils in the federation, and

9.     Members of the local government councils in the federation.

 

On the meaning of election within the context of section 137 (1](b] of the Constitution,[20] the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in the landmark case of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu v. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and 3 Ors.,[21] stated that election means, “exercise of adult suffrage, which involves voters, materials for voting and supervision and counting of votes by electoral personnel.” The Court of Appeal relied on the above Supreme Court position when it was called upon to define election in the case of Peoples Progressive Alliance and Anor. v. Dr Bukola Saraki & 3 Ors.[22] Ogunwuniju, JCA defined the concept of election as follows: “The Advanced Learners Dictionary defines the word ‘election’ as ‘choosing especially by voting”.[23] Edozie JSC expressed the view in Ojukwu v. Obasanjo & Ors.,[24] that the word “election”, in the context in which it is used in section 137 (1](b] of the 1999 Constitution, means the process of choosing, by popular votes, a candidate for a political office in a democratic system of government.

On the concept of election, Ogunbiyi JCA, in the case of Independent National Electoral Commission & Ors. v. Onimbah E.C. Ray & Ors.,[25] held that the issue was whether it referred to the whole process of election, constituting accreditation, voting, collating, recording on all relevant Independent National Electoral Commission forms and declaration of result; or on the other hand, “election” refer to merely voting in units or wards as the case may be. His Lordship in his judicial wisdom concluded thus:

It is trite law that the concept of ‘election’ denotes a process constituting accreditation, voting, collation, recording on all relevant INEC forms and declaration of results. The collation of all results of the polling units making up the wards and the declaration of results are therefore constituent elements of an election as known to law.[26]

 

On the pertinent invitation to define the concept to election, Agbo JCA, simply relied on the Black’s Law Dictionary definition in the case of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu v. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua & 4 Ors[27] and put it simply as follows:

Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th Ed defines the word ‘elected’ in ordinary signification. It carries with it the idea of a vote, generally popular, sometimes more restricted, and cannot be held to be a synonym for any other mode of filling a position. [28]

In the case of Adewale Segun Sunday & Anor. v. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC] & 4 Ors.,[29] Hussein Mukhtar JCA (as he then was] held that:

An election cannot be limited to mean the poll. Poll in Black’s law Dictionary 6th Edition at p. 1159] is defined to mean ‘The act or process of voting at an election; the result of the counting of votes’. Therefore, an election includes but is not limited to polls. I am of the view that election as a process cannot be divorced from the preliminary matters of sponsorship and nomination, just as polls, declaration of results and the issuance of certificates are an integral part of the process. They are all part of the whole. [30]

The Court of Appeal, in the case of Kwara v. Innocent,[31] on the concept of election, stated thus: “generally, an election refers to the whole process of election, voting, collating, recording on all relevant Independent National Electoral Commission forms and declaration of results”. It is worthy of note that this apt definition of election was again judicially endorsed by the Court of Appeal, where Umar Faruk Abdullahi PCA, read the lead judgement in the case of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC] & 19 Ors. v. Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomole & 30 Ors.,[32] and stated with judicial precision thus:

… and the concept of election denotes the process of accreditation, voting, collation, recording on all relevant INEC forms and declaration of results….

It is conducive to sound legal reasoning to submit that the problem of definition looms large in respect of the concept of election. This is discernible from the latent lacuna created in the Electoral Act[33] and the Constitution.[34] The definitions offered by the dictionaries[35] are necessary working definitions, though election is succinctly seen as a selection process or mode of choosing. The conceptualization of election by the different judicial authorities easily fills the gap. However, it is observed, with due respect, that the definition of election by the Supreme Court, in the case of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu v. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,[36] is inchoate as it is limited to counting of votes by the electoral personnel. It is submitted that at the stage of counting of votes by the electoral personnel, election is inconclusive. It is therefore concluded only when the votes counted are collated, entered in the appropriate forms of the Independent National Electoral Commission, and ultimately the results therefrom are declared. Consequently, any definition of election devoid of the fundamental ingredients of collation, entry in the appropriate forms and ultimate declaration of results is inchoate.

 

Concept of Petition

What therefore is a petition? It is pertinent to note that the Electoral Act,[37] failed to define or give any clear meaning to the word petition. The Act[38] only literarily begged the question as it defines a “petition” to mean an election petition under the Act.[39] It is also instructive to note that successive Electoral Acts,[40] have also failed to give any credible meaning to the word petition. According to the Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary,[41] a petition is “a formal application in writing made to a court, requesting judicial action concerning some matter therein set forth”. In the same vein, the Webster’s New World Dictionary[42] defines petition as “a written request or plea in which specific court action is asked for”. The Black’s Law Dictionary[43] defines a petition as “a formal written request presented to a court or other official body”. It can be sieved from the foregoing, that a petition is a formal application in writing, presented to a court or tribunal, requesting judicial action in the matter therein set fourth: It could therefore be an application to an election tribunal or court requesting judicial action as per the validity or other wise of a candidate’s return, when such return is allegedly invalid. It is submitted that section 133 (1] of the Electoral Act,[44] while prescribing the way and manner of questioning an election by the only mode admissible to the Act, described the nature of an election petition. The section states:

Section 133 (1]:

No election and return of an election under this Act shall be questioned in any manner other than by a petition complaining of an undue election or undue return (in the Act referred to as an “election petition”] presented to the competent tribunal or court in accordance with the provisions of the constitution or of this Act and in which the person elected or returned is joined as a party.

The Court of Appeal in the case of All Nigeria Peoples Party v. Independent National Electoral Commission & Ors.,[45] on the invitation to state the constituents of an election petition, made the following illuminating pronouncement:

What constitutes an election petition therefore is a complaint by the petitioner against an undue election or return of a successful candidate at the election. It is not a complaint against INEC and its officers and agents who conducted the election, for failure to conduct the election as prescribed by law as erroneously assumed by the appellant in his petition. The fact that the challenge of the election is the foundation of the cause of action in an election petition is also traceable to the provisions of the Constitution prescribing the jurisdiction of election tribunals created under the Constitution.[46]

 

Nature of Election Petitions and Burden of Proof

Election petition cases are within the realm of civil proceedings. However, they are not seen as civil proceedings in the ordinary sense nor are they treated as normal civil proceedings. Samson Odenwingie Uwaifo JSC stated in the case of General Muhammed Buhari v. Alhaji Mohammed Dikko Yusuf,[47] that election petitions are distinct from the ordinary civil proceedings and in certain circumstances, the slightest default in complying with procedural step which otherwise could either be cured or waived in ordinary civil proceedings could result in fatal consequences to the petition.

His Lordship stated further:

So, an election petition is neither seen as a civil proceeding in the ordinary sense nor, of course, a criminal proceeding. It can be regarded as a proceeding sui generis.[48]

Similarly, Kalgo JSC categorically postulated in the same case as follows:

There is no doubt at all that an election petition is not to be treated under peculiar provisions of the relevant electoral law and is not particularly related to the ordinary rights and obligations of the parties concerned.[49]

Ipso facto, election matters are sui generis and do not deal with the civil rights and obligations of parties as to justify the intervention of the High Court. In the case Orubu v. NEC,[50] the Appeal Court held that election petitions are peculiar in nature, and because of this peculiarity and importance to the wellbeing of a democratic society, they are:

Regarded with aura that places them over and above normal day to day transaction between individuals which give rise to ordinary claims in Court.[51]

Oguntade JCA restated this judicial position in the case of Abdullahi v. Elayo[52] that:

It must also be borne in mind that an election is not always to be treated as the ordinary civil suits in Court. An election legislation creates a special jurisdiction and the ordinary rules of procedure in civil cases do not always serve to effectuate its purposes. [53]

The same legal position was held by the Court of Appeal; Ilorin Division in the case of Peoples Progressive Alliance v. Saraki.[54] The Court re-echoed the judicial policy that:

Election petitions are sui generis, that is, to say they are in a unique and peculiar class of their own. They are distinct in procedure from other civil proceedings. Right of access to Court is as provided by the law guiding the conduct of the election. Thus parties are bound by the statute rather than the common law.[55]

The plethora of judicial authorities on the nature and peculiarities of election petition agree only to the extent that it is civil proceedings, but, in a unique and peculiar class of its own, that it is not to be treated as a normal civil proceeding. It is therefore distinct in nature and procedure from other civil proceedings. In other words, election petition cases are sui generis. According to the Black’s Law Dictionary,[56]sui generis’ is of Latin origin meaning “of its own kind”. It therefore means of its own kind or class; unique or peculiar. Election petitions therefore belong to a special class of their own and enjoy special treatment by the constitution and under the law regulating the practice and procedure in civil proceedings. It is against this background that the Court of Appeal in the case of Samamro v. Anka,[57] stated that:

Election petitions are not like ordinary civil proceedings. If it were so, then non-joinder of a party or even a misjoinder of a party in a petition like in ordinary civil suit will not affect the jurisdiction of the Court on the suit. In an election petition, the rules creating the right to file the petition, the categories of complaints that can be made and the language and the format of the petition are contained in the statute which also creates the tribunal to preside over the petition are clearly set out in the Decree. Non-Compliance with the rules creating the facility for the petition means there is no petition. It is a misconception to compare the proceedings created in Decree No 5 of 1999 with ordinary proceedings.[58]

Similar perspective was echoed by Uwais JSC in the case of Jim Nwobodo v. C.C Onoh.[59] According to his Lordship:

Election petitions are by their special nature peculiar from the point of view of public policy. It is the duty of the Courts therefore to endeavor to hear them without allowing technicalities to unduly fetter their jurisdiction.[60]

It is worthy of note therefore that in view of the peculiar nature of election petitions, guidance in its adjudication is to be drawn only from the relevant statute from which the Court derives its jurisdiction.[61] It is submitted therefore that the general principles of law applicable in other civil matters are not necessarily applicable to election petitions. In the case of Ezeobi v. Nzeka,[62] the Court of Appeal rejected the legal argument equating “cause of action” in civil cases to “cause of action” in election petitions. In the case of Falae v. Obasanjo,[63] where the petitioner sought to apply the provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights[64] to an election petition, the Court of Appeal held that the provisions of the Charter did not apply to election petition proceedings.

 

Proof of Criminal Allegations in Election Petitions

It is settled law that where allegations of crime are made in election petitions, the standard of proof required, is proof beyond reasonable doubt. This position of the law is in compliance with the provisions of section 135(1] of the Evidence Act[65], which states that: “If the commission of a crime by a party to any proceeding is directly in issue in any proceeding, civil or criminal it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt”.

It is worthy of note that this position of the law has been upheld in a plethora of cases.

In the case of Nwobodo v. Onoh,[66] the Supreme Court held the common legal position that, in so far as a petition is predicated on a claim that contains alleged commission of criminal offences, it is the duty of the petitioner to prove the alleged criminal offences by evidence which should be beyond reasonable doubt.

In that case, there was a gubernatorial election that took place in Anambra state on the 13th of August 1983. The Appellant, the 1st Defendant and several other candidates contested the election. The appellant, then the incumbent Governor of Anambra State, filed a petition in the Anambra State High Court, Enugu, against five respondents. In the petition, the Petitioner, Chief Jim Ifeanyi Chukwu Nwobodo claimed that he had a right to be elected and or returned as the Governor of Anambra State, against the background that he won the majority votes and twenty five percent of the votes cast in more than two-thirds of the twenty three local Government Areas in Anambra State. The Petitioner further claimed in his petition, that the results of the elections as certified by the 3rd respondent and announced by the returning officer were falsified in the various areas within the constituency.

Paragraphs 8(1](ii] and (iii] of the petition states as follows:

(1)   (i] “out of the total falsified results of one million, eight hundred and sixty seven thousand, one hundred and ninety two (1,867,192] votes purported to have been cast at the election, the petitioner was credited with the false score of eight hundred and eighty seven thousand, two hundred and twenty one (887,221] total votes, while the 1st respondent was falsely credited with nine hundred and one thousand, three hundred and ninety (901,390] total votes as indicated in the Schedule “A” attached to the petition”.

      (ii] “By the said falsification of results, the 1st respondent had a total of fourteen thousand, one hundred and sixty nine (14,169] votes more than the score credited to the petitioner who by the correct number of votes scored, had a majority of all the votes cast at the entire election as shown in the schedule “B” attached to this petition”.

      (iii] “The results of the said election were falsified by the 2nd, 3rd and 5th respondents or their agents, servants or privies in most of the Local Government Areas within the state constituency for the election….”

By a majority judgement, the High Court declared the Petitioner duly elected. Dissatisfied with the decision, the respondents appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal. The decision of the High Court was reversed by the Federal Court of Appeal, which held per the lead judgement of Belgore JCA thus:

That the appellant by making the averment that the results of the election were falsified by the 2nd and 3rd respondents, made an allegation of crime against them and the onus was on him to prove the crime beyond reasonable doubt in accordance with the provisions of section 137(1] of the Evidence Act, and that the appellant failed to do so….[67]

The appellant not satisfied by the judgement of the Federal Court of Appeal, then appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, and dismissed the appeal on the altar of “proof beyond reasonable doubt”. Bello JSC held as follows:

Accordingly, the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal reversing the finding of fact by the trial Court is impeccable. I share the same view with the learned justices of the court, that the petitioner did not prove the commission of the crime against the respondents’ alleged in his petition and I dismiss this appeal on this ground.[68]

On the burden of proof on a petitioner who based his claim on the allegation of crime, Sowemimo JSC, echoed the position of the law thus:

My brother Bello, JSC had drawn attention to the fact that all allegations made in the pleadings of the plaintiff were of crime, forgery of election returns by the Deputy Returning Officers. In the evidence led by the petitioner, suggestions were made that a particular individual was responsible for the alleged forgery committed in the area and which was subsequently declared valid by the returning officer of Anambra State. Chief William, SAN, made strenuous efforts to show that the allegations were not meant to be of a criminal character but mere arithmetical error or irregularities. With respect, my understanding of the allegations of crimes in the pleadings constituted forgery of electoral returns. It was this aspect of what a person who alleges the commission of a crime has to prove that brought in the consideration of our law. It is obvious that the petitioner having chosen to base his claim on alleged commission of criminal offences, it is his duty to prove the alleged criminal offences by evidence which should be beyond reasonable doubt.[69]

The Supreme Court judgement in the case of Nwobodo v. Onoh,[70] was delivered in the morning of 6th of January 1984, while the Supreme Court also delivered the judgement in the case of Omoboriowo v. Ajasin[71] later on the same day of 6th of January 1984.

In the case of Omoboriowo v. Ajasin,[72] the petitioner, Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin and the 1st respondent, Chief Akin Omoboriowo among other candidates contested for the gubernatorial election of Ondo State held on the 13th of August 1983. The returning officer returned Chief Akin Omoboriowo, the first respondent, as the winner of the election. The petitioner was dissatisfied with the result of the election and filed a petition in the High Court, Ondo State, complaining against the return. The ground for the petition was the claim that the 1st respondent was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes at the election, but that the petitioner was duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes and that he ought to have been returned. The petitioner also made allegations of falsification of results, which amounted to allegations of crime against the 2nd respondent, his servants or agents. The High Court which consisted of five Judges, unanimously gave judgement for the petitioner by declaring that the 1st respondent was not duly elected or returned, and the petitioner was duly elected and ought to have been returned.

The respondents appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal. It was contended on behalf of the respondents that the petitioner failed to discharge the burden of proof necessary to establish averments in his election petition. However, it was the contention of the petitioner that after the severance of the averments of the allegations which input crime, there were enough averments in the petition backed by credible evidence to sustain the petition. By a split decision of five justices to two, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. This then occasioned a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and held the sanctity and correctness of result declared by the returning officer and drew a distinction between this case and the case of Nwobodo v. Onoh,[73] in that the principles of severance of pleadings applied to this case. On rebutting the correctness of a result declared by a returning officer, the Supreme Court stated thus:

There is in law, a rebuttable presumption that the result of an election declared by the returning officer is correct and authentic by virtue of sections 115, 148(c] and 149(1] of Evidence Act, and the burden is on the person who denies the correctness and authenticity of the return to rebut the presumption. Where such denial is based on a mere complaint that the petitioner scored a majority of lawful votes, the rebuttal needs only to be proved within the balance of probability.[74]

The Supreme Court further stated on the scope of section 137(1] of Evidence Act and the principles of severance of pleadings as follows:

Again, in my reasons for judgement in Nwobodo v. Onoh (1981-1990] LRECN 369, I considered fully the scope of section 137(1] of the Evidence Act and its application to the pleadings of a particular case as qualified by the principle of severance of pleadings as demonstrated in Nwankwere v. Adewunmi (1967] NMLR, 45 at 48, and Arab Bank v. Ross (1952] QBD 216 at 229. In the case in hand, at the close of his case during the hearing of the petition, the petitioner abandoned the allegations of crime. It follows therefore, that in so far as the petition was founded on those allegations, it must be dismissed. However, if the averments alleging crime against the 2nd respondent were excised from the petition, there still remained in the body of the petition sufficient averments without putting directly in issue the commission of a crime by a party to sustain the petition. I think it is essential for better appreciation of the issue to set out the averments relevant to the areas in dispute in the petition stripped of its allegation of crime.[75]

Applying the principles of severance of pleadings which the Supreme Court held was the difference between this case and that of Nwobodo v. Onoh,[76] Uwais JSC reiterated the submission of counsel for the respondents as follows:

“Apart from the allegations of the commission of crime made, there were the averments made in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the amended petitions which read:

(3] Chief Akin Omobriowo was at the time of the election, not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes of the election.

(4] Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin received a total of one million, six hundred and fifty two thousand, seven hundred and ninety five (1,652,795] of the votes cast in all the seventeen Local Government Areas of Ondo State and received twenty five percent or more in more than two thirds of all the Local Government Areas in the state, whilst Chief Akin Omoboriowo received a total of four hundred and twenty one thousand, four hundred and one votes.”[77]

Particulars of the votes according to Local Government Areas of the State were given in paragraph 4. Mr Ajayi doggedly argued that if all the paragraphs of the amended petition which imputed the commission of crime were severed, the averments in paragraphs 3 and 4, which are quoted above, were sufficient ground under section 122 subsection (1] of the Electoral Act, 1982 for bringing the petition. His Lordship then held thus:

this submission is right, because as observed in Arab Bank Limited v. Ross (1952] 2 QBD 216 at p.229, ‘under the rules of pleading’, as I have always understood them, a pleader who has pleaded more than he strictly need to have done can always disregard the unnecessary or surplus averments and rely simply on the more limited ones. Here lies the difference between the present case and that of Chief Jim I. Nwobodo v. Chief C.C. Onoh and Ors. (1981-1990] LRECN 369 reasons for judgement delivered earlier today. While in the former, no attempt was made to prove the crime alleged, the opposite was the case in the latter. In other words, the averments of crime in the present case were abandoned but retained Nwobodo’s case.[78]

The issue of burden of proof of allegations of crime in election petitions also came up for determination before the Supreme Court in the case of Torti v. Ukpabi.[79]

In that case, the appellant was the petitioner in an election filed in the High Court of Justice of Imo State, at Umuahia on the 24th day of August, 1983, wherein the petitioner challenged the election or return of the 1st respondent, Chief Chris Ukpabi and sought the court’s declaration that he ought to have been returned as duly elected and returned as Senator for the Umuahia Senatorial District. Messrs Okereke and Dr. M. Ozurumba, the Federal Electoral Officer, Umuahia Senatorial District and Returning Officer, Umuahia Senatorial District, respectively were made respondents to the petition in addition to Chief Chiris Ukpabi.

The petitioner claimed to have received a majority of votes lawfully cast at the election. The petitioner further alleged that the respondent in connivance with the Police and the 3rd Respondent tampered with the votes scored by the parties by altering the votes scored by the 1st respondent and thereby inflated same with about forty thousand (40,000] votes. He stated further that the 1st respondent was declared the winner as having purportedly scored the majority of votes on account of the falsification.

At the trial of the case, the petitioner tendered signed copies of the election results as exhibits A, A1 to A19 and C, which showed clearly how the votes were altered on the results. The trial Judge of the Election Court admitted the signed copies of the results in evidence and relied on same as proof of the allegations of falsification of the results. The Court therefore quashed the return of the 1st respondent and after deducting the inflated votes declared the petitioner as having been duly elected. The 1st respondent appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal which overruled the Election Court on the issue of admissibility of the signed copies of the results which they held were inadmissible.

Against this background, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the election. Dissatisfied with the decision, the petitioner as the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court against the judgement and the Supreme Court allowed the appeal.

On the standard of proof required in this case, Andrew Otutu Obaseki JSC applied the principles of severance of pleadings and stated that:

On the issue of standard of proof required to establish the petition, I find myself unable to accept the submission of the counsel for the respondents, that proof of all the allegations in the petition must be beyond reasonable doubt to establish the petition. In other words, unless the facts are proved beyond reasonable doubt, the petition must fail. This statement of the law is clearly erroneous and it is unfortunate that the Federal Court of Appeal fell into the error. There is a clear distinction between the general issue of who had the majority of lawful votes which was the main issue for determination and the collateral issue of the offence of falsification. The allegation of falsification was made against the 3rd respondent in paragraph 9 of the petition already set out above. The words in quote “as you can see, this is not my making, this is what they asked me to announce and you can see they said Chief Chris Ukpabi won the election” coming out of the mouth of the Assistant Returning Officer need no further interpretation.

The allegation of falsification was not made against the 1st respondent, Chief Chris Ukpabi and so no issue of falsification arose between them. The only issue that arose between them is whether he, the petitioner/appellant received the highest number of majority of lawful votes or the 1st respondent/respondent received the majority of lawful votes. The standard of proof required to resolve the issue is one of the balance of probabilities, the burden of proof being one arising in civil cases…[80]

The issue of the standard of proof of allegation of crime or falsification of result in election also came up for determination in the Supreme Court case of Buhari v. Obasanjo.[81]

In that case, an election to the offices of President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was conducted throughout Nigeria on the 19th of April, 2003. The 1st appellant and the 2nd appellant contested as the candidates of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP], while the 1st and 2nd respondents contested as the candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP]. At the end of the election, the 1st and 2nd respondents were returned as the candidates duly elected as President and Vice-President respectively.

The 1st and 2nd appellants were aggrieved with the return of the 1st and 2nd respondents and they filed a petition at the Court of Appeal in its jurisdiction to hear and determine election petitions arising from Presidential elections. They sought the following reliefs:     

“(a] An order of the Court that the election is invalid for reasons of non-compliance with substantial sections of the Electoral Act, 2002.

(b] An order of the Court that the election is invalid for reasons of corrupt practices.

(c] An order of the Court that at the time of the election, the 1st respondent was not qualified to contest”.[82]

In the alternative:

That the 1st respondent was not validly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the election and did not receive 25%of the votes cast in two-thirds of the states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.[83]

The appellants made allegations in their petition against the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents and the 3rd respondent’s officials. The appellants claimed that the election was marred by widespread acts of violence and intimidation against the appellant’s supporters by armed military and police officers and armed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP] members and thugs, which led to injury and death of the appellant’s supporters at various named parts of the country and that such acts took place in other unnamed parts of the country. It was further claimed by the appellants that the election was marred in fourteen states of the federation by pre-voting time fingerprinting of ballot papers, snatching of election materials by thugs of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP] for stuffing outside polling stations and diversion of election materials to the private houses of citizens and government officials who are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP]. The appellant also claimed that the scores ascribed to each of the candidates at the election were fictitious and the product of deliberate wrong entries into the result sheets by the 3rd respondent’s officials at polling booths, wards and local government areas where elections were held and in polling units, wards and local government areas where elections were not held as a result of the violence or acts of intimidation by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP] thugs acting together with armed military and Police officers. The 3rd to 268th respondents generally denied the averments of the appellants.

In the alternative, they contended that the complaints of the appellants in respect of the election were not substantial enough to invalidate the election. At the hearing of the petition, the parties called witnesses and tendered documents in evidence. The witnesses also testified about the acts of violence and intimidation by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP] members against the appellants’ supporters, but the evidence adduced did not directly link the 1st and 2nd respondents to the acts of violence and intimidation.

The Court held that while evidence of acts of violence and intimidation were admissible generally, because the appellants averred that such evidence would be adduced, evidence of electoral malpractices were inadmissible unless related facts were pleaded. It found from evidence adduced that there were acts of electoral malpractices, violence and intimidation as averred by the appellants but held that the non-joinder of the 3rd respondent’s electoral officials and the military and Police Officers who perpetrated the acts of violence and intimidation was fatal to the relevant paragraphs of the petition in which the allegations were made and to the appellants case. The Court of Appeal held ultimately that the breaches of the Electoral Act, 2002 averred and proved by the appellant did not ipso facto, invalidate the election and that the evidence adduced was not sufficient to enable it decide that the entire election was not held in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, 2002. Consequently, by a majority decision, it dismissed the petition.

The appellants were dissatisfied with the majority judgement of the Court of Appeal and appealed to the Supreme Court. However, the appeal failed at the Supreme Court and same was accordingly dismissed. On the issue of standard of proof of allegations of crime or falsification of result in election petitions, the Supreme Court made the following pronouncement:

Allegations of the commission of a crime must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Consequently, allegations of manipulation or alteration of election result, or acts of violence during election, which are criminal offences must be proved beyond reasonable doubt whenever they are made in an election petition. It is therefore inappropriate for a Court to infer that a particular candidate at an election was responsible for the violent acts committed during an election in the absence of evidence, which shows beyond reasonable doubt that he was responsible.[84]

 

Pats-Acholonu JSC, espoused further on this legal position and stated thus:

Moreover, it is essential to know that most of the allegations questioning the propriety of the elections verged on criminal acts and other unethical acts, on the authority of Jim Nwobodo v. Onoh & 2 Ors (1984]1SNCLR 1, they must be proved “beyond all reasonable doubt”. What really does that expression mean? It is proof that precludes every reasonable hypothesis except that which it tends to support, and verily, it is a proof that is consistent with the guilt of the accused person or against whom the allegation has been made. Therefore, it can be said that for evidence to attain the height that could bring about a conviction, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, every other hypothesis or conjecture or proposition or presumption except that of the guilt of the accused. If the evidence is wobbly, themative or vague or is compatible with both innocence and guilt, then it cannot be described as being beyond all reasonable doubt.[85]

The Supreme Court, in 2012, followed its earlier decision in the cases of Nwobodo v. Onoh[86] and Buhari v. Obasanjo[87] on the onus of proof of allegation of crime in election petitions, in the case of Action Congress of Nigeria v. Sule Lamido.[88]

In the Supreme Court cases of Nwobodo v. Onoh,[89] Omoboriowo v. Ajasin,[90] Torti v. Ukpabi,[91] Buhari v. Obasanjo[92] and Action Congress of Nigeria v. Lamido,[93] whereas the Supreme Court insisted on the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt in criminal allegations in election petitions in the cases of Nwobodo v. Onoh,[94] Buhari v. Obasanjo[95] and Action Congress of Nigeria v. Lamido,[96] the same court applied the principles of severance of pleadings in the cases of Omoboriowo v. Ajasin[97] and Torti v. Ukpabi.[98]

This legal position that requires a petitioner to prove allegations of crime in election petitions, drawn from section 135(1] of the Evidence Act,[99] has been the bane of election petitions in Nigeria. This is against the background, that it is near impossible to predicate an election petition on any of the grounds for questioning election cognizable by section 138(1] of the Electoral Act,[100] without the petitioner making allegations of crime. The grounds known to section 138(1] of the Electoral Act[101] for questioning elections are qualification,[102] corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Act,[103] petitioner’s claim of majority of lawful votes cast at the election[104] and valid nomination but unlawful exclusion from the election.[105] It is submitted that facts upon which the above grounds for questioning election could be elicited in most cases amount to criminal allegations, and are, ipso facto, so pleaded in an election petition. It is submitted that the “proof beyond reasonable doubt” rule was created to ensure that only guilty persons are convicted by the state, which is in tandem with the often quoted and immortal words of William Blackstone that it is “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”. It suffices to say that the “proof beyond reasonable doubt” doctrine evolved from unrelenting human struggles against the arbitrary exercise of powers by the state and its agents.[106]

It is submitted against this background, that the application of the doctrine to criminal proceedings is conducive to sound legal reasoning and infallible. However, the extension of the same stringent standard of proof to allegations of crime in election petitions connote gross legislative and jurisprudential misconception of the origination and core essence of the doctrine of proof beyond reasonable doubt.

In legal parlance, the end result of a proceeding ought to determine the standard of proof to be applied. Consequently, the strict rule of proof beyond reasonable doubt ought only to be applicable in criminal cases where the end results of the proceedings seek the conviction of a citizen by the state and not where the end result gravitates towards the pursuit of restorative reliefs, declarations and restitutive orders often sought in election petitions proceedings. It is therefore antithetical to sound legal reasoning when a petitioner is required to manifest in toto the prosecutorial powers of the State to arrest, gather, investigate and pontificate the required proof beyond reasonable doubt evidence when all he seeks are restorative reliefs, restitutive orders and declarations. A fortiori, it equals a summersault from the Olympian height, when it is considered that such a petitioner hardly ever possesses the supportive and investigative prowess available often exclusively to the State. It is of fundamental importance to note, that the core essence of an election petitions are not the conviction of electoral offenders, but the determination of whether the declared outcome of an electoral contest by the Independent National Electoral Commission is in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.[107]

Election petition proceedings is not tantamount to a criminal trial. Ipso facto, the standard of proof required in a criminal trial ought not to be accommodated in election petitions proceedings, irrespective of the nature of allegations of crime embedded in the pleadings. We therefore agree with the sound legal reasoning of Akintayo Iwilade,[108] that where the required proof is not to be followed by a conviction by the state, the proof beyond reasonable doubt requirement becomes incongruous, illogical and bereft of any rationally sound and identifiable jurisprudential root, culminating in an unfortunate statutory and jurisprudential misconception and a clog in the democratic wheel.

We therefore agree with TA Nwamara,[109] in his book on Election law and practice, when he stated as follows:

It is submitted that the judiciary is eminently better equipped to adjudicate on matters of qualification and disqualification of candidates, than the national electoral commission. Presently, NEC seems to be able to supplant the electorates as the decider of who should govern, not only by qualification and disqualification, but also in the way elections were conducted, which showed fraud by NEC officials, yet the tribunals and courts could do nothing, because of the high standard of proof required in an election petition, thus demanding of the petitioner, the skill of a C.I.D. chief before he could succeed. [110]

 

Kayode Eso JSC, while correctly dissenting in our view, from the majority judgement in the case of Nwobodo v. Onoh,[111] did not only deprecate the application of the doctrine of proof beyond reasonable doubt to allegations of crime in election petitions, but recommended an amendment to the provisions of section 137(1] of the Evidence Act, which is now section 135(1] of the Evidence Act.[112] His lordship echoed his meritorious dissenting views on the subject with commendable lucidity with the following immortal words:

….I am of the firm view, that the whole essence of section 137(1] of the Evidence Act is to prevent a litigant being adjudged guilty of a criminal offence except the proof of the crime was beyond every reasonable doubt. It is not to restrict the civil right of a plaintiff or petitioner or absolve a defendant or respondent as the case may be from civil liability. Indeed this was the provision of the law in England up to about 1927, when in Lek v. Mathews (1927] 29 LL.L Rep. 141, the House of Lords put it decidedly that to ask for proof beyond reasonable doubt in a civil case involving criminal allegation would be putting too high a burden on the plaintiff. In that case Lord Summer had said:

On a civil issue, I do not think more is required than a correct appreciation of incidence of the shifting of the onus of proof and a reasonable estimate of the weight. Pro and con of the various parts of evidence …. I am just as reluctant to make the under writer pay Mr Lek many thousands of pounds if he has been guilty of making a false claim, as to find him guilty of it if he has not. The whole question is whether it has been proved, and I think it has. I think the time is ripe in this country when the federal military government should give a serious consideration to amending the provisions of section 137(1] of the Evidence Act in line with the English situation as already discussed. To leave the law as it is, especially as it has now been interpreted once and for all by this court, and my own interpretation in a mere dissent from the majority, will in my respectful view lead to injustice being  done to litigant who have just claim but which claim is based upon an allegation of a crime.[113]

Solomon Asemota SAN,[114] while commenting on the dissenting judgement of his lordship, Kayode Eso JSC, in the case of Nwobodo v. Onoh, correctly in our view stated with unimpeachable reflection, what obtains in practice in the following words:

It is the writer’s view that Justice Eso’s fears have been vindicated as injustice is being done to petitioners who have just claim before tribunals and court, but are unable to prove their case where crime is mentioned, beyond reasonable doubt. The effect of all these is that it is becoming the norm for all methods, fair or foul to be employed by the candidate to ensure that he is declared winner, knowing fully well that the tribunals or courts in order not to be seen to have supplanted the electorates as the decider of who should govern, will not disturb the result declared by NEC. Once rigging has been successfully employed by a candidate or a party, the techniques are perfected and ultimately become entrenched as part of political culture, thus destroying the chances of future free and fair elections. Election contest in a developing country where so much hangs on the winning of political power is a life-and-death matter for those engaged in it. It becomes more so when those contesting know that it is not a free and fair contest but one in which victory is declared for the smarter of the two contestants….[115]   

Professor Itse Sagay, SAN[116] condemn with vehemence, the continued application of the doctrine of proof beyond reasonable doubt to election petitions. According to him:

It has become clear that the requirement by some judges that proof of election fraud, rigging, falsification of results, etc. should be beyond reasonable doubt, is a bogey set up to stultify and frustrate truth and justice. It is the moral, legal and constitutional duty of a court or tribunal in an election case to sift diligently through all the mass of materials in an attempt to identify the true and valid votes scored by the parties not to erect barriers of technical terms and obscurantism in order to cover up a clear act of gross injustice. It is also clear, that in Nwobodo v. Onoh, the Court of Appeal and majority in the Supreme Court deliberately decided to ignore the mass of evidence of electoral misconduct manipulation, falsification and rigging, hopping vainly to justify their injustice on the altar of beyond reasonable doubt. They obviously failed in the court of justice and public opinion. [117]

We agree completely with the well-researched views of Professor Itse Sagay[118] SAN, on the injustice occasioned by the application of the doctrine of proof beyond reasonable doubt to election petitions. It has become a deliberate handmaid of the judiciary to dispense injustice to petitioners when it so desires.

 

Severance of Pleadings

It is discernible from the plethora of cases in election petitions, that the courts have created the concept of severance of pleadings in election petitions litigations in utter appreciation of the application of the doctrine of proof beyond reasonable doubt. It is therefore deliberately aimed at mitigating the palpable injustice that often result from the parochial insistence on the onerous proof beyond reasonable doubt standard required for criminal allegations in election petitions. The concept of severance of pleadings stipulate that an election tribunal or court should severe or separate the pleadings with criminal allegations in an election petition from those without, and ultimately do justice to both by applying the two different statutory proof standards, respectively namely: proof beyond reasonable doubt and proof on the balance of probabilities or preponderance of evidence.

Denning LJ elucidated the concept of severance pleadings when he stated in the case of Arab Bank Limited v. Ross[119] that:

Under the rules of pleading as I have always understood them, a pleader who has pleaded strictly more than he need have done can always disregard the unnecessary and surplus averments and rely on the more limited ones. [120]  

 

Denning LJ simplified the legal position further when he humoured that:

Even with ordinary common sense, if I have to find my lost coat with AB, and on a claim for recovery thereof, I alleged that he stole the coat, the fact that I could not prove AB to be the thief does not deny the recovery of my coat once I establish the coat to be mine and not AB’s.[121]

The principle of severance of pleading was re-echoed by the Supreme Court in the case of Torti v. Ukpabi[122] thus: “It is possible to severe the averment that allege the commission of crime in the instant case and still retain sufficient pleadings to prove the case of the petitioner”.

The Court of Appeal in the case of Aregbesola v. Oyinlola,[123] restated the application of the severance of pleadings principle to election petitions as follows:

The interpretation of the foregoing authority presupposed that application of section 137(1] of the Evidence Act to a civil case depends on the contents of the pleadings of each case. In other words, if the averments alleging the commission of a crime are severable and if following such act of severance, the petitioners pleadings still contain sufficient averments which suffice and disclose a cause against any of the parties to the proceedings, then the burden of proof laying on the petitioner is not of a criminal nature beyond reasonable doubt but that which requires proof on preponderance of evidence.[124]

The Appeal Court further held: “The principle of severance in cases of this nature is of great significance and has been emphasized by their lordships, as seen in the case of Omoboriowo v. Ajasin (Supra]”.

In other words, the determining factor is whether the allegations, if severed and put into two separate compartments can be sustained as an entity. If the answer is positive, then proof of one is not dependent on the other but side by side. The crucial determinant factor certainly is dependent on the pleadings of the parties.

The core issue in the concept of severance of pleadings is that pleadings can be severed into two separate compartments: the one with allegations of crime or criminal imputations on one side of the divide and one without, on the other side of the divide. Whereas the side that encompasses the one with criminal imputations will require proof beyond reasonable doubt standard to succeed, while the divide without criminal imputations, will require proof on the balance of probabilities or preponderance of evidence. The application of severance of pleadings is only useful where there are other pleadings devoid of criminal imputations. However, it is submitted that the application of the doctrine to election petitions, is no cure to the malaise foist on petitioners by the proof beyond reasonable doubt standard. This therefore, constitutes a clog in the wheel of the progress of democracy, which ought to be representative governance where the majority through the ballot determines the sovereign.

 

Conclusion

It is distillable from the foregoing that the consent of the governed is the bedrock of democracy which admits of regular and periodic elections. This system of democracy is synonymous with the idea of justice. This was aptly stated by Chief Justice Hewart, in the case of R. v. Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy,[125] in these immortal words:

… it is not merely of some importance, but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. [126]

The nature of justice dispensed in electoral matters is that emanating from the appreciation of the applicable electoral laws by the Nigerian courts. Against this background, cognizance is not taken of the purpose and proper legislative intent of the appropriate electoral laws. The purpose of election laws was aptly captured in the United States of America’s case of Jacob v. Seminola County Canvassing Board[127] as follows:

The purpose of election laws is to obtain a correct expression of the intent of the voters, without imposing unnecessary and unreasonable restraint on that right. [128]

We agree with the views of Professor Itse Sagay that the application of the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt to election petitions, which are sui generis, on a special class within the realm of civil proceedings, is a clog in the wheel of progress of the electoral process, and ipso facto, democracy. A clarion call for legislative intervention to amend section 135(1] of the Evidence Act and usher in a legal regime where the standard of proof for election petitions, irrespective of the existence of allegations of crime therein, should be on the balance of probabilities is desirable. This legislative intervention is urgent and pertinent as the application of the doctrine of severance of pleadings is a further complication of the malady. A fortiori, this statutory incoherence and illogicality was departed from in England in about 1927. Justice Kayode Eso echoed this view in the case of Nwobodo v. Onoh[129] aptly as follows:

I am of the firm view, that the whole essence of section 137(1] (now section 135(1]] of the Evidence Act is to prevent a litigant from being adjudged guilty of a criminal offence except the proof of the crime was beyond reasonable doubt. It is not to restrict the civil right of the plaintiff or petitioner or absolve a defendant or respondent as the case may be from civil liability. Indeed, this was the provision of the law in England up to about 1927, when in Lek v. Mathews (1927] 29 LL.L Rep., 141, the House of Lords, per Lord Summer, put it decidedly that to ask for proof beyond reasonable doubt in a civil case involving criminal allegation would be putting too high a burden on the plaintiff.[130]

The idea of electoral justice and democracy must be in one accord.

 


 

Bibliography

Cases

 

Abdullahi v. Elayo [1993] 1 NWLR pt. 268, 171, 19

Action Congress of Nigeria v. Sule Lamido [2012] 8 NWLR, pt. 1303, 560

Adewale Segun Sunday & Anor. v. Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] & 4 Ors. [2008] 2 LRECN, 392

Adun v. Osunde [2003] 1 LRECN 160

All Nigeria Peoples Party v. Independent National Electoral Commission & Ors. [2004] 7 NWLR, 871

Arab Bank Limited v. Ross [1952] KB 216

Aregbesola v. Oyinlola [2011] 9 NWLR, pt. 1253

Attorney-General of the Federation v. All Nigeria Peoples Party [ANPP] & 2 Ors. [2003] 1 LRECN, 300

Buhari v. Obasanjo [2005] 13 NWLR, pt. 941

Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu v. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo [2003] SC 199.

Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu v. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and 3 Ors. [2004] 1 LRECN, 481

Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru and Anor. v. Dr Emmanuel Ewetan Uduagha & Ors. [Appeal No. CA/B/EPT/38/10]

Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu v. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua & 4 Ors [2007] LRECN 401

Ezeobi v. Nzeka [1989] 1 NWLR pt. 98

Falae v. Obasanjo, [1999] 6 NWLR pt. 606.

General Muhammed Buhari v. Alhaji Mohammed Dikko Yusuf [2005] 1 LRECN, 481

Independent National Electoral Commission & Ors. v. Onimbah E.C. Ray & Ors. [2004] 14 NWLR pt. 892

Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] & 19 Ors. v. Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomole & 30 Ors. [2009] 4 NWLR, pt. 1132

Jacob v. Seminola County Canvassing Board [2000] WLR, 1793

Jim Nwobodo v. C.C Onoh [1984] 1 SC 1, 195

Kwara v. Innocent [2009] 1 NWLR, pt. 1121

Nyanko v. Balewa [1960-1980] LRECN, 356

Obih v. Mbakwe [1981-1990] LRECN 197

Okechukwu v. INEC [2014] NWLR, pt. 1438

Omoboriowo v. Ajasin [1981-1990] LRECN, 332

Orubu v. NEC [1981-1990] LRECN 550

Peoples Progressive Alliance and Anor. v. Dr Bukola Saraki & 3 Ors [2007] LRECN, 138

R. v. Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy, [1924] All ER 233

Samamro v. Anka [2000] 1 NWLR pt. 640

Torti v. Ukpabi [1981-1990] LRECN, 221

 

 

Constitutions

 

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 [as amended].

 

 

Statutes

 

Electoral Act, 2011

Electoral Act 1962

Electoral [Amendment] Act 1964

Electoral [Amendment] Decree 1979

Electoral Act 2002

Electoral Act 2006

Electoral Act 2010 [as amended]

 

Books and Chapters in books

Babalola, A, Election Law and Practice [Afe Babalola, 2003]

Nwamara, TA, Encyclopedia of Election Law and Practice [Law and Educational Publishers Ltd, 2007]

Black’s Law Dictionary

Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary

Webster’s New World Dictionary

 

Lectures and Seminar Papers

Sagay, I, “The Crisis of Election Petitions and Decisions”, in a Lecture delivered as part of the Lecture Series on Electoral Integrity on the invitation of the Obafemi Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy, at the LCCI Conference Hall Alausa, Ikeja on Tuesday 23rd November, 2010.

 

Websites

Iwilade, A, “Required Proof for Criminal Allegation in Election Petition” <www.punchng.com> accessed 15 May 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1]                 [2000] WLR, 1793.

[2]                 Ibid., 429.

[3]                 [2014] NWLR, pt. 1438, 255.

[4]                 Ibid., 300

[5]                 [2003] 1 LRECN 160

[6]                 Ibid., 179.

[7]                 Itse Sagay, “The Crisis of Election Petitions and Decisions”, in  a Lecture delivered as part of the Lecture Series on Electoral Integrity on the invitation of the Obafemi Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy, at the LCCI Conference Hall Alausa, Ikeja on Tuesday 23rd November, 2010, 62.

[8]                 [Appeal No. CA/B/EPT/38/10]

[9]                 Ibid.

[10]                Electoral Act, 2011.

[11]                Section 156 of the Electoral Act, 2011.

[12]                Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary.

[13]                Webster’s New World Dictionary.

[14]                Electoral Act 1962; Electoral (Amendment) Act 1964; Electoral (Amendment) Decree 1979; Electoral Act 2002; Electoral Act 2006; Electoral Act 2010, and Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

[15]                [1960-1980] LRECN, 356, 360.

[16]                Section 90 of the Electoral Act, 1960.

[17]                Note 15, at 360

[18]                [2003] 1 LRECN, 300, 315.

[19]                Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

[20]                Ibid.

[21]                [2004] 1 LRECN, 481, 491.

[22]                [2007] LRECN, 138, 142, 159-160.

[23]                Ibid., 142

[24]                [2004] 12NWLR pt. 886, 169 at 227.

[25]                [2004] 14 NWLR pt. 892, 92.

[26]                Ibid., 123

[27]                [2007] LRECN 401

[28]                Ibid., 416.

[29]                [2008] 2 LRECN, 392, 411.

[30]                Ibid., 411.

[31]                [2009] 1 NWLR, pt. 1121, 179, 217.

[32]                [2009] 4 NWLR, pt. 1132, 607, 662.

[33]                Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

[34]                Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

[35]                Black’s Law Dictionary; Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary; and Webster’s New World Dictionary.

[36]                [2009] 1 NWLR, pt. 1121, 179, 217.

[37]                Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

[38]                See S. 156 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

[39]                Ibid.

[40]                Electoral Act, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2010 and Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

[41]                Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary.

[42]                Webster’s New World Dictionary.

[43]                Black’s Law Dictionary.

[44]                Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

[45]                [2004] 7 NWLR, 871, 16.

[46]                Ibid., 55

[47]                [2005] 1 LRECN, 481.

[48]                Ibid., 488

[49]                See Obih v. Mbakwe [1981-1990] LRECN 197.

[50]                 [1981-1990] LRECN 550.

[51]                Ibid., 554

[52]                [1993] 1 NWLR pt. 268, 171, 19.

[53]                Ibid., 179

[54]                [2007] LRECN, 138.

[55]                Ibid., 142

[56]                Black’s Law Dictionary.

[57]                [2000] 1 NWLR pt. 640, 283.

[58]                Ibid., 287

[59]                [1984] 1 SC 1, 195.

[60]                Ibid., 195.

[61]                Afe Babalola, Election Law and Practice (Afe Babalola, 2003) 299.

[62]                [1989] 1 NWLR pt. 98, 478.

[63]                [1999] 6 NWLR pt. 606, 283, 290.

[64]                [Ratification and Enforcement] Act Cap 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

[65]                Evidence Act, 2011.

[66]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 369.

[67]                Ibid., 372

[68]                Ibid., 414

[69]                Ibid., 373

[70]                Ibid.

[71]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 332.

[72]                Ibid.

[73]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 369.

[74]                Ibid., 378

[75]                Note 71, 338

[76]                Note 73

[77]                Ibid.

[78]                Note 71, 341-342

[79]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 221.

[80]                Ibid., 248

[81]                [2005] 13 NWLR, pt. 941, 1.

[82]                Ibid., 31

[83]                Ibid., 31-32

[84]                Ibid., 79

[85]                Ibid., 79-80

[86]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 369.

[87]                [2005] 13 NWLR, pt. 941, 1.

[88]                [2012] 8 NWLR, pt. 1303, 560.

[89]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 369.

[90]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 332.

[91]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 221.

[92]                [2005] 13 NWLR, pt. 941, 1, 79-80.

[93]                [2012] 8 NWLR, pt. 1303, 560.

[94]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 369.

[95]                [2005] 13 NWLR, pt. 941, 1, 79-80.

[96]                [2012] 8 NWLR, pt. 1303, 560.

[97]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 332.

[98]                [1981-1990] LRECN, 221.

[99]                Evidence Act, 2011.

[100]              Ibid.

[101]              Ibid.

[102]              See, section 138(1)(a) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

[103]              See, section 138(1)(b), ibid.

[104]              See, section 138(1)(c), ibid.

[105]              See, section 138(1)(d), ibid.

[106]              Akintayo Iwilade, “Required Proof for Criminal Allegation in Election Petition”, <www.punchng.com> (accessed 15 May 2015).

[107]              Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

[108]              Iwilade, “Required Proof for Criminal Allegation in Election Petition”.

[109]              TA Nwamara, Encyclopedia of Election Law and Practice (Law and Educational Publishers Ltd, 2007).

[110]              Ibid., 727

[111]              [1981-1990] LRECN, 369.

[112]              Evidence Act, 2011.

[113]              Note 111, 458

[114]              Lecture notes 8(a) and (b) – continuing, Legal Education Association (Nigeria).

[115]              Ibid., 23-25 .

[116]              Itse Sagay, “The Crisis of Election Petitions and Decisions”.

[117]              Ibid., 48.

[118]              Ibid.

[119]              [1952] KB 216.

[120]              Ibid., 229.

[121]              Ibid.

[122]              [1981-1990] LRECN, 221, 224.

[123]              [2011] 9NWLR, pt. 1253, 477.

[124]              Ibid., 477.

[125]              [1924] All ER 233.

[126]              Ibid.

[127]              [2000] WLR, 1793.

[128]              Ibid., 429.

[129]              [1981-1990] LRECN, 332.

[130]              Ibid.