‘Doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence must be specif­i­cally linked to the as­pect it re­lates’

Daily Trust - - LAW -

BE­TWEEN ED­WARD NKWEGU OKEREKE Ap­pel­lant(s) AND 1. NWEZE DAVID UMAHI 2. PEO­PLES DEMO­CRATIC PARTY (PDP) 3. INDEPENENT NA­TIONAL ELEC­TORAL COM­MIS­SION (INEC) Re­spon­dent(s) ON FRI­DAY, THE 5TH DAY OF FE­BRU­ARY, 2016 SC.1004/2015 (REA­SONS) LN-e-LR/2016/44 (SC) OTHER CI­TA­TIONS BE­FORE THEIR LORDSHIPS MAH­MUD MO­HAMMED, J.S.C IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD, J.S.C KUMAI BAYANG AKA’AHS, J.S.C KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C JOHN INYANG OKORO, J.S.C CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE, J.S.C AMIRU SANUSI, J.S.C MAIN JUDG­MENT

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE, J.S.C. (De­liv­er­ing the Lead­ing Judg­ment):

This Court heard and dis­missed this ap­peal on Jan­uary 27, 2016. It promised to prof­fer its rea­sons for do­ing so on Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 5, 2016, that is, to­day. Its rea­sons are set out be­low.

The third re­spon­dent in this ap­peal, (In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, INEC, for short), con­ducted elec­tion into the of­fice of the Gov­er­nor of Ebonyi State on April 11, 2015. The ap­pel­lant in this ap­peal, Ed­ward Nkwegu Okereke, was spon­sored by the Labour Party.

On his part, the first re­spon­dent, Nweze David Umahi, was the can­di­date of the sec­ond re­spon­dent, Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (here­inafter, sim­ply, re­ferred to as “PDP”).

At the end of the poll, the third re­spon­dent de­clared the said Nweze David Umahi (first re­spon­dent herein) as the win­ner and the duly re­turned can­di­date for the said elec­tion. The sad dec­la­ra­tion was se­quel to the third re­spon­dent’s find­ing that he (the first re­spon­dent) scored the high­est num­ber of votes cast and, in ad­di­tion, sat­is­fied the con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ments apro­pos the elec­tion to the Of­fice of the Gov­er­nor of Ebonyi State.

Dis­sat­is­fied with the above dec­la­ra­tion, the ap­pel­lant and his party, the Labour Party, ap­proached the Gover­nor­ship Elec­tion Pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal (here­inafter, sim­ply, called “the trial Tri­bunal”) with their Pe­ti­tion in which they chal­lenged the dec­la­ra­tion and re­turn of the first re­spon­dent as the Gov­er­nor of Ebonyi State.

In pass­ing, it may be noted here that, pur­suant to its ap­pli­ca­tion, the trial Tri­bunal struck out the name of the Labour Party from the Pe­ti­tion; hence leav­ing the ap­pel­lant as the sole Pe­ti­tioner.

The ap­pel­lant’s Pe­ti­tion was pred­i­cated on the Grounds set out at page 4, Vol 1 of the record. They were framed thus:

(i) That the elec­tion of the first re­spon­dent, Nweze David Umahi, the per­son whose elec­tion is ques­tioned, was in­valid by rea­son of non-com­pli­ance with the pro­vi­sions of the Elec­toral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Fed­eral Repub­lic;

(ii) That the said elec­tion was marred by var­i­ous acts of cor­rupt prac­tices and ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties;

(iii) That the said Nweze David Umahi was not elected by the ma­jor­ity of the law­ful votes cast at the Gover­nor­ship elec­tion of Ebonyi State held on the 11th April, 2015.

For their bear­ing on the is­sues for­mu­lated by the ap­pel­lant, the re­liefs, which the ap­pel­lant en­treated from the trial Tri­bunal, are set out here in ex­tenso, viz:

(1) A dec­la­ra­tion that the pur­ported elec­tion and re­turn of the first re­spon­dent as the win­ner of the Gover­nor­ship elec­tion in Ebonyi State held on 11th April, 2015 was marred by wide­spread ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and sub­stan­tial non-com­pli­ance with the Elec­toral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the INEC Guide­lines for the con­duct of Elec­tions, 2015 and is ipso facto null and void;

(2) A Dec­la­ra­tion that the dis­crep­an­cies be­tween the num­ber of Elec­tronic Card Reader ac­cred­ited vot­ers and the Form EC8A Re­sult Sheets of ac­cred­ited votes on polling unit ba­sis in the 11th April, 2015 Gover­nor­ship elec­tion in Ebonyi State con­sti­tute ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties or fail­ure that sub­stan­tially af­fected the re­sults of the elec­tion and that the af­fected re­sults be nul­li­fied ac­cord­ingly;

(3) A Dec­la­ra­tion that the first re­spon­dent Nweze David Umahi was not duly elected by ma­jor­ity of law­ful votes cast at the said Gover­nor­ship elec­tion and did not re­ceive 25% of votes cast in two-third of the thir­teen Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Ar­eas of Ebonyi State as re­quired by the pro­vi­sions of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion of the Fed­eral Repub­lic of Nige­ria (as amended);

(4) An Or­der nul­li­fy­ing the pur­ported elec­tion and re­turn of the first re­spon­dent as the win­ner of the Gover­nor­ship elec­tion for Ebonyi State held on 11th April, 2015;

(5) A Dec­la­ra­tion that the first Pe­ti­tioner was duly elected by ma­jor­ity of law­ful and valid votes cast at the said Gover­nor­ship elec­tion held on 11th April, 2015 in Ebonyi State;

(6) In al­ter­na­tive to re­lief 5 (supra), an or­der nul­li­fy­ing the en­tire Gover­nor­ship elec­tion held in all the polling units in Ebonyi State on 11th April, 2015 and for fresh elec­tion to be con­ducted. [Ital­ics supplied for em­pha­sis]

Con­tin­ued on www. dai­lytrust.com.ng/law

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