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Yahaya v. Dankwanbo

  1. ALHAJI MUHAMMED INUWA YAHAYA
  2. ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS (APC)

V

  1. ALHAJI IBRAHIM HASSAN DANKWANBO
  2. PEOPLES’ DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)
  3. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC)

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

W. S. N. ONNOGHEN JSC ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment )

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR JSC

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI JSC

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD JSC

CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI JSC CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE JSC

AMIRU SANUSI JSC

SC. 979/2015

MONDAY, 25 JANUARY 2016

APPEAL - Findings by lower courts - Where concurrent - Attitude of Supreme Court to

ELECTION PETITION - Corrupt practices or non-compliance with electoral provisions - Petitioner who alleges - Onus on - Electoral Act, 2010, sections 138(1)(b) and 139(1) considered

ELECTION PETITION - Over-voting - When occurs - Petitioner who alleges - What must establish to prove

EVIDENCE - Burden on he who alleges to prove - Failure to - Effect

EVIDENCE - Document - Admissibility of and weight to be attached to - Distinction between

STATUTE - Electoral Act, 2010, sections 138(1)(b) and 139(1) Corrupt practices or non-compliance with electoral provisions -  Petitioner who alleges - Onus on

Issues:

  1. Whether the court below was right, having rightly found that exhibit ‘AN’ was wrongly rejected by the trial tribunal and that the testimony of PW21 was wrongly discountenanced, still failed to accord exhibit ‘AN’ and the testimony of PW21 the necessary weight and resultant consequence they have on the appellants’ case, especially when the PW21 linked the documents tendered with the case of the appellants.
  2. Whether the court below was right in affirming the decision of the trial tribunal on the testimonies of PWS2, 3 , 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 17 by holding that the testimonies of the witnesses are inadmissible and that there was failure to adhere to the provisions of the Illiterate Protection Act on the ground of alleged absence of illiterate jurat.
  3. Whether the court below was right in affirming the dismissal of the appellants’ petition when from the totality of the case made by the appellants especially the oral and documentary evidence tendered, they have discharged the burden of proof on the various allegations made to entitle them to succeed.

Facts:

The governorship election in Gombe State contested by the 1st appellant and the 1st respondent among other candidates was declared won by the 1st respondent. Dissatisfied, the 1st appellant and the 2nd appellant party which sponsored him for the election challenged the 1 st respondent’s win and return by filing a petition at the governorship election petition tribunal, sitting in Gombe State on grounds of overvoting, corrupt practices, fraud and rigging. They prayed the tribunal for declaratory reliefs to that effect and an order declaring the 1st appellant as winner of the election. In the alternative, the appellants prayed for nullification of the election. The tribunal held that the petition was not proved and dismissed same. Dissatisfied, the appellants filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal. Following the dismissal of their appeal, the appellants appealed further to  the Supreme Court on grounds that the lower court wrongly affirmed the trial tribunal’s decision when they successfully proved their petition. The 1st and 2 nd respondents filed a preliminary objection to the appeal.

In determining the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the following statute:

Electoral Act, 2010, section 139(1)

An election shall not be liable to be invalidated by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of this Act, if it appears to the election tribunal or court that the election was conducted substantially in accordance with the provisions of this Act and that the non-compliance did not affect substantially, the result of the election.