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