Mistakes Political Parties Must Not Make When Instituting An Action, After Election Result Is Out As Established In The Case Of P.D.P V. I.N.E.C (2022) 18 N.W.L.R (PART 1)

By Funmilola Adeniran Esq.


On who can give evidence of infractions at Election?


By Section 45 of the electoral Act, 2010* as amended, political parties are at liberty to appoint polling agents whose functions are define therein. They represent their respective political parties at numerous polling units as, bye law, political leaders and all citizens of Nigeria are restricted to their respective polling units. Therefore evidence on any infraction of the electoral process must be given by the polling agent present at the unit and who also witnessed it. Where polling agent relate any infraction of the electoral process to their leaders, and the leaders take it upon themselves to testify to the infractions or happenings in court, the evidence will amount to hearsay evidence which the court does not accord probative value.

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Who can give evidence of incidents at the Polling Units?
The only witnesses acceptable in election matters in proof of incidents at polling units are units agent and no other. In order to prove allegations in respect of polling units being challenged, the party who is challenging, has a duty to call polling units agent to give evidence in respect of each of the units. In giving evidence about polling unit result, it must be shown that the witnesses witnessed the making of the results or were signatories to them.

On right of petitioner to file petitioner’s brief
By virtue of paragraph 16 (1) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. If a person in his reply to an election petition raises new issues of fact in defence of his case which the petition has not dealt with, the petitioner shall be entitled to file in the registry within five (5) days from the receipt of the respondent’s reply, a petitioner’s reply in answer to the new issues of facts. However, the petitioner shall not at that stage be entitled to bring in new facts, ground or prayers tendering to amend or add to the content of the petition filed by him and his reply must not run counter to the provision of paragraph 14(1) of the schedule. The petitioner in proving his case shall have fourteen (14) days to do so and respondent shall equally have fourteen (14) days to reply. Thus a petitioner’s reply to a respondent’s reply in a petition should contain only a response to new issues of facts or law raised in the respondent’s reply to the petition. It is not an opportunity to bring new facts, ground or prayers tendering to amend or add to the content of the petition filed by him

Treatment of allegations made against a person not a party to an election petition
Where allegations made against a person not a party to an election petition such allegations goes to no issue and the Court will be on firma terra to strike out such paragraphs. But where a party is listed in a petition and no allegation is made against such party, the Court can strike out his name in order to prune the issues for determination to manageable size. A petition must focus on the essentials of its complaint.
Presumption in respect of conduct of an Election

The provision Section 168 of the Evidence Act, 2011
confers presumption of regularity on every official act of the government in any election conducted. The burden of rebutting the regularity of the conduct of the election lies with the petitioner who questions same. In rebutting the correctness or regularity of such an official act, credible and cogent evidence must be adduced by such a party seeking such a vitiating relief, and testimonies geared towards that the effect should not be at large. Such evidence should be directed to specific vitiating act as alleged from one polling unit to another, by no other than polling unit agents who had firsthand observation of what took place at the various polling units.

Funmilola Adeniran Esq.
The Federal Ministry of Justice,

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