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Magaji v. Balat

JAMES BAWA MAGAJI

ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES PARTY

V

ISAIAH C. BALAT

PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY

INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION

RESIDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER, KADUNA STATE

COURT OF APPEAL

( KADUNA DIVISION )

ISA AYO SALAMI, JCA ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment )

DALHATU ADAMU, JCA

STANLEY SHENKO ALAGOA, JCA

CA/K/EP/NA/23/2003

THURSDAY, 16TH OCTOBER, 2003

COURT - Interpretation of statutes - Clear and unambiguous words employed in a statute - Duty of court to give literal and grammatical meaning to

COURT - Interpretation of statutes - Duty of court to interprete not to re-write the law

COURT - Procedure - Statutory provisions for - Duty of court to adhere to

ELECTION PETITION - Address of petitioners - Address of solicitors supplied - Sufficiency of

ELECTION PETITION - Address of petitioners - Purpose of asking for same

ELECTION PETITION - Amendment of - Whether can be done after the expiration of time to file or present the petition

ELECTION PETITION - Defect therein - When can be cured

ELECTION PETITION - Nature of - Distinctiveness from civil or criminal proceedings - Sui generis nature of

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - Clear provisions of legislations Duty of court to give literal and grammatical meaning to

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - Conflict in provisions of schedule to an Act with an earlier provision in a section of the Act - How resolved - Prevalence of the latter

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - Construction of - Need to construe all the parts of a statute together

JUSTICE - Substantial justice - Priority of over mere technicalities

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Statutorily laid down procedure - Duty of court to adhere to

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Technicalities - Superiority of substantial justice to

STATUTE - Electoral Act No. 4 of 2002 -  Paragraph 4(1)(c)  of the First Schedule thereto - Provisions of vis-a-vis the need for petitioners to supply names and scores of all candidates at the election - Insistence on compliance therewith - Whether amounts to mere technicality

STATUTE - Schedule to an Act - Enactments therein where conflict with an earlier provision of the Act - Effect

Issues:

1.             Whether the Election Tribunal was right in holding that the solicitors’ address (instead of the petitioners’ address) was not sufficient to satisfy the requirement of paragraph 4(4) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2002.

2.             Whether the Election Tribunal was right in holding that although the only ground of the petition challenges the qualifications of the 1st respondent to contest the election, failure to state the names of “all” the candidates who contested the election was fatal.

Facts:

In the National Assembly Election Tribunal, established for Kaduna State, the appellants presented a joint petition dated 9th March, 2003 challenging the election and return of the first respondent, Isaiah Chawai Balat.

On the service of the process on the respondents, first, third and fourth respondents entered conditional appearance. The second respondent on its part entered unconditional appearance.

Meanwhile, the petitioners filed a motion to amend the petition by adding the score of the UNPP candidate to the petition. The respondents took objection to the competence of the petition and caused to be given notices of their respective intentions to rely on preliminary objection as well as filing motions on notice.

The respondents’ motions on notice and their notices of intention to rely on preliminary objection were taken and argued together. The Tribunal on 4th June, 2003 delivered its reserved and considered ruling striking out the petition on account of failure to state scores of all the candidates and provide petitioners’ address for service as required by paragraph 4(1)(c) and (4) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act, 2002. The motion to amend the petition by adding the scores of another candidate was never entertained and for that reason still subsists on the record of the Tribunal till date.

The petitioners were dissatisfied with the decision of the Tribunal striking out their petition and have appealed to the Court of Appeal.