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P.D.P. v. I.N.E.C.

PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (P.D.P)

V

INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC)

ABDUL’AZIZ YARI ABUBAKAR

ALHAJI IBRAHIM WAKKALA

ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES’ PARTY (ANPP)

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

MAHMUD MOHAMMED JSC ( Presided )

CHRISTOPHER MITCHEL CHUKWUMA-ENEH JSC

M. S. MUNTAKA-COOMASSIE JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

JOHN AFOLABI FABIYI JSC

BODE RHODES-VIVOUR JSC

SC.6/2012

FRIDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 2012

APPEAL - Concurrent findings by lower courts - Supreme Court Attitude of thereto

ELECTION PETITION - Further particulars - Order for - Application for - Nature of - Who may benefit from

ELECTION PETITION - Objection in - Proper time to raise and determine - 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, paragraphs 12(5) and 47(1) considered

ELECTION PETITION - Written address of counsel -  Statutorily prescribed number of pages for - Non-compliance with - Effect of - Practice Directions, 2011, paragraph 5(a) and (c) considered

EVIDENCE - Further particulars - Order for - Application for - Nature of - Who may benefit from

EVIDENCE - Proof - Wrongdoing of civil nature and malpractice of criminal nature - Allegations of - Standard of proof required to establish

PLEADINGS - What are - Mandatory characteristics of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Rules of court - Application of - Court -  Duty on to do justice when undertakes

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Statutory procedure for doing an act -  Where options are given therefor - Right of party to adopt any

STATUTE - 1st Schedule to Electoral Act (as amended), paragraph 12(5) -  Purport of

STATUTE - 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, paragraphs 12(5) and 47(1) -  Election petition - Objection in - Proper time to raise and determine

STATUTE - Practice Directions, 2011, paragraph 5(a) and (c) - Election petition - Written address of counsel therein - Statutorily prescribed number of pages for - Non-compliance with - Effect of

Issues:

  1. Whether considering the clear provisions of section 140(4) of the Electoral Act, paragraphs 17(1) and (2), 47(1) and 53 of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, vis-a-vis the provision of paragraph 12(5) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, the lower court was not in grave error in holding as it did that the striking out by the trial election tribunal of paragraphs 12, 17  - 19, 22, 27, 29 - 34, 36, 37, 41 - 44 of the petition was justified.
  2. Whether the lower court was not in grave error in its conclusion in relation to the joinder of issues on the struck out paragraphs by the 2nd - 4th respondents, as well as its rationalizing the basis for their being struck out.
  3. Whether the Supreme Court decision in Nwankwo v. Yar’Adua (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1209) 518 has been abrogated or replaced by paragraph 12(5) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act.
  4. Whether compliance with the provisions of the Election Tribunal and Court Practice Directions, 2011, are not mandatory for the parties
  5. Whether considering the circumstances of the case, the state of pleadings and evidence adduced, including the abandonment of its pleadings by the 1st respondent, the lower court was not in error in holding that the appellant did not prove its case.

Facts:

The petitioner was aggrieved by the declaration and return of the 2 nd and 3rd respondents as the Governor and Deputy Governor of Zamfara State and therefore, filed a petition in the Governorship Election Tribunal, sitting in Zamfara State. The respondents filed an objection which was determined with the substantive petition, after which the petition was dismissed. Aggrieved, the petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeal, where the appeal was dismissed. Yet aggrieved, it filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

In determination of the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the following statutes;

1 st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010, paragraph  12(5): “A respondent who has objection to the hearing of the petition shall file his reply and state the objection thereon and the objection shall be heard along with the substantive petition.” 1 st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010, paragraph  47(1): “No motion shall be moved and all motions shall come up at the pre-hearing session except in extreme circumstances with

leave of tribunal or court.”

1 st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010, paragraph  17(1): “If a party in an election petition wishes to have further particulars or other directions of the tribunal or court, he may, at any time after entry of appearance, but not later than ten days after the filing of the reply, apply to the tribunal or court specifying in his notice of motion the direction for which it prays and the motion shall, unless the tribunal or court otherwise orders, be set down for hearing on the first available day.”