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A.N.P.P. vs. I.N.E.C.

ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES PARTY

V

INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION &

301  ORS.

COURT OF APPEAL

( ENUGU DIVISION )

M. MOHAMMED JCA (Presided and Read the Lead Judgment)

SULE AREMU OLAGUNJU JCA

JOHN AFOLABI FABIYI JCA

CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI JCA

MONICA BOLANA’AN DONGBAN-MENSEM JCA

CA/E/EPT/6/2003

THURSDAY, 13TH NOVEMBER, 2003

COURT - Miscarriage of justice - What constitutes

COURT - National Assembly Election Tribunal - Jurisdiction of to hear and determine election petition -  Factor determining

ELECTORAL MATTERS - Election petition - Constituent of - Whether includes complaint against INEC and its officers

ELECTORAL MATTERS - Election petition - Jurisdiction of National Assembly Election Tribunal to hear and determine -  Factor determining

ELECTORAL MATTERS - Misjoinder of parties and causes of action in election petition - Where a political party/petitioner joined several causes of action against several candidates declared as winners in an election and sought one prayer in respect of the several causes of action brought together in an election petition -  Impropriety of


ELECTORAL MATTERS - Political party which participated at an election - Right of to present election petition

ELECTORAL MATTERS - Successful candidate at an election - Failure to join as necessary party in an election petition seeking to nullify his victory - Effect of

FAIR HEARING - Denial of - Effect - Nullity of proceedings even if the same conclusion would have been reached had there been no denial of fair hearing

FAIR HEARING - Meaning of

FAIR HEARING - True test of

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS -  Perverse decision - Features of

JUSTICE - Miscarriage of justice - What constitutes

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Objection - Matters more than mere irregularity - When can be raised by way of objection at any stage of proceedings

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Objection - On what must be based

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Preliminary objection - Affidavit in support of - Needlessness of where sufficient grounds of objection is placed before the court

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Fair hearing’ - Meaning of WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Perverse decision’ - Features of

Issues:

1.              Whether the ruling of the Election Tribunal was null and void for its obvious failure to consider the counter affidavit evidence of the petitioner.

2.              Whether the Tribunal was right in finding that the appellant’s petition was filed out of time when that objection was withdrawn by the 1st - 291st respondent and in fact the petition was not filed out of time.

3.              Whether the Tribunal was right in faulting the petition on grounds of duplicity and misjoinder of parties and/or causes of action.

4.              Whether the non-joinder of one Uchenna S. A. Igwesi who contested in Nkanu East Federal Constituency and against whom the petitioner fielded no candidate was fatal to the petition.

Facts:

At the National Assembly general election conducted throughout Nigeria on Saturday 12th April 2003, the appellant, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) was one of the political parties that fielded candidates who contested for the 3 seats for the House of Representatives in Enugu State. At the end of the exercise, none of the candidates fielded by the ANPP emerged a winner in any of the 3 Senatorial Districts of Enugu State or any of the House of Representatives constituencies in the State. Consequently, in exercise of its right under section 133(1)(b) of the Electoral Act 2002, the appellant filed an election petition before the Enugu National Assembly Election Tribunal on 14th May, 2003 claiming mainly that there was no election as prescribed by law and prayed that the result of the election of the 12th day of April, 2003, and any subsequent date into the National Assembly for Enugu State be declared null and void.

The 301 respondents to the petition included 10 candidates sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose candidates were returned as duly elected from the 3 Senatorial Districts and 7 House of Representatives Federal Constituencies of Enugu State. However, one of the successful candidates at the election, Hon. Uchenna S. A. Igwesi from Nkanu East Federal Constituency was not made a respondent in the petition because, according to the petitioner, no candidate was fielded by it in that constituency.

After service of the petition on all the 301 respondents, 1st - 291st respondents through their counsel entered a conditional appearance and filed a joint reply. They raised objection to the competence of the petition in pursuit of which they filed a motion on notice dated 9th June, 2003 on 10th June, 2003 and sought for an order of the trial Tribunal to strike out the petition for being incompetent on the grounds inter alia of non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Law and for being bad for duplicity for misjoinder of parties and causes of action.

Arguments were heard on the application by the Tribunal. In its ruling delivered on 18th June, 2003, the Tribunal upheld the objection on some of the grounds and struck out the petition.

Dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.