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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) v. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) & Ors. (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) v. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) & Ors. (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

by Branham Chima (SAL).

➥ PARTIES
⦿ APPELLANT
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

v

⦿ RESPONDENT

  1. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC);
  2. All Progressives Congress (APC);
  3. Bola Tinubu;
  4. Shettima Kashim.

➥ COURT:
Supreme Court – SC/CV/501/2023

➥ JUDGEMENT DELIVERED ON:
Friday, the 26th day Of May, 2023

➥ THIS CASE IS AUTHORITY FOR:
⦿ FILING HARDCOPY WHEN DECISION OF COURT IS ALREADY REPORTED IS UNNECESSARY
On 23rd May, 2023, a day after the appeal was heard, learned. counsel for the Appellant forwarded to this court, hard copies of this court’s decision in NWOSU V. APP (2020) 16 NWLR (PT. 1749) 28 and APC V. SHERIFF & ORS (2023) LPELR 59953 (SC) as well as the decision of the lower court in NWOSU V. APP & ORS (2019) LPELR 49206 (CA). The said cases have already been reported, hence forwarding their hard copies was needless. — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ MEANING OF LOCUS STANDI; LOCUS STANDI IS A THRESHOLD ISSUE
The term locus standi is a Latin term which translates to “place to stand”. It refers to the legal right of a person, natural or artificial, to file a suit. It is sometimes used interchangeably with terms like “standing”, “standing to sue” and “title to sue”. Unquestionably, the issue of locus standi is a threshold issue, and in order for a court to have jurisdiction, the Plaintiff must have locus standi to commence or file the action. Put differently, if a Plaintiff lacks the legal right to institute an action, no court will in turn have the power or competence or jurisdiction to entertain the suit. A Plaintiff’s locus Page 20 of 41 standi is inextricably linked with the jurisdiction of the court as once a Plaintiff lacks locus, the court is also bereft of jurisdiction. See AKANDE V. JEGEDE (2022) 14 NWLR (PT. 1849) 125; AJAYI V. ADEBIYI (2012) 11 NWLR (PT. 1310) 137; B.M.LTD. V. WOERMANN-LINE (2009) 13 NWLR (PT. 1157) 149. — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ WHEN A COURT IS COMPETENT TO EXERCISE JURISDICTION OVER A SUIT
A court is said to be competent to exercise jurisdiction over a suit when the following are present: 1. It is properly constituted as regards members and qualification of the members of the bench and no member is disqualified for one reason or another; 2. The subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction, and there is no feature in the case which prevents the Court from exercising its jurisdiction; and 3. The case comes before the Court initiated by due process of law, and upon fulfilment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction. See MADUKOLU V. NKEMDILIM (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; O’BAU ENGINEERING LTD V. ALMASOL (NIG.) LTD (2022) LPELR 57985 (SC); PETROLEUM (SPECIAL) TRUST FUND V. FIDELITY BANK & ORS (2021) LPELR 56625 (SC); ENEH V. NDIC & ORS (2018) LPELR 44902 (SC); JAMES V. INEC & ORS (2015) LPELR 24494 (SC). — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ LACK OF LOCUS STANDI ROBS COURT OF JURISDICTION; WHETHER A PERSON HAS LOCUS STANDI
Lack of locus standi on the part of the Plaintiff in a suit is a feature that robs any court of jurisdiction to entertain the suit before it. In order to have locus standito sue in an action, a Plaintiff must show, to the satisfaction of the court, that his civil rights and obligations have been or are in danger of being infringed. He must show that there is a nexus between his suit and the conduct of the Defendant(s). A Plaintiff must show sufficient connection to, and harm or potential harm or damage from the action complained of. It has been held that the tests for determining whether a person has locus to institute an action are that: (a) The action must be justiciable; and (b) There must be a dispute between the parties. See ANOZIA V. A.-G., LAGOS STATE (2023) 2 NWLR (PT. 1869) 545; BARBUS AND CO. (NIG.) LTD. V. OKAFOR UDEJI (2018) 11 NWLR (PT. 1630) 298; B.B. APUGO & SONS LTD VS. O.H.M.B. (2016) 13 NWLR (PT. 1529) 206. — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER IN RESPECT OF LOCUS STANDI
The pertinent questions to consider here are: has the Appellant who was the Plaintiff been able to show sufficient nexus between itself and the purported actions of the Respondents? Has the Appellant been able to demonstrate that its civil rights and obligations have been or are in danger of being infringed? Has the Appellant been able to show that the purported actions of the Respondents have harmed it or stand to potentially harm it? Is the Appellant’s suit justiciable? Is there a dispute between the Appellant and the Respondents? — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ CHALLENGING OR POKING INTO THE AFFAIRS OF ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY
Paragraph (c) of Section 285(14) of the Constitution is however the only provision that empowers a political party to institute a pre-election matter. The Appellant has latched on to the provision and argued strenuously that it vests it with locus standi to institute its case before the trial court. It should be noted that by the use of the words “…decisions or activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission paragraph…” and “…or any other applicable law has not been complied with by the Independent National Electoral Commission…” paragraph (c) only empowers a political party to challenge the actions of INEC. Anything outside this is beyond the scope of the provision of the paragraph. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the applicability of Section 285(14)(c) is not at large. The provision does not make the filing of pre-election matters by political parties an all-comers affair. It is not the purpose of the provision that a floodgate of pre-election litigation be open to political parties who will hide under it to challenge the actions or inactions of rival political parties under the guise of challenging the decisions or activities of INEC. The application of Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution does not extend to a political party poking into the affairs of another. The position of the law has always been that no political party can challenge the nomination of the candidate of another political party. The position did not change with Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution. — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ A POLITICAL PARTY CANNOT CHALLENGE ACTIVITIES OF ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY VIS-A-VIS INEC
No matter how pained or disgruntled a political party is with the way and manner another political is conducting or has conducted its affairs concerning its nomination of its candidates for any position, it must keep mum and remain an onlooker, for it lacks the locus standi to challenge such nomination in court. A political party equally lacks the locus standi to challenge the actions of INEC in relation to another political party. Section 285(14)(c) only allows a political party to challenge the decisions and activities of INEC disqualifying its own candidate from participating in an election, or to complain that the provisions of the Electoral Act or any other law have not been complied with in respect of the nomination of the party’s own candidates, timetable for an election, registration of voters and other activities of INEC in respect of preparation for an election. A political party is only vested with locus to file a pre election matter when the aforesaid situations affects it or its own candidates. When the actions of INEC relate to the activities of a political party, no court has the jurisdiction to entertain a suit brought by another political party in that regard. — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ ONE POLITICAL PARTY CANNOT INTERFERE IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE OTHER POLITICAL PARTY
The decision of this court in the case of PDP V. NGBOR & ORS (2023) LPELR 59930 (SC), delivered on 7th February, 2023 is instructive. In that case, the Appellant (PDP) filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Division, challenging the decision of INEC to accept the candidates of the 7th Respondent, African Democratic Congress (ADC). The Appellant therein alleged that ADC did not comply with the provisions of the law in the nomination of its candidates for Rivers State House of Assembly elections in that the primary elections from of which its candidates in respect of some state constituencies emerged were held outside the constituencies, contrary to the requirement of the law. The Appellant also alleged that INEC maintained double standards as it insisted that the nomination of the Appellant’s candidates must comply with legal requirements, while overlooking the requirements in respect of the 7th Respondent’s candidates. The trial court granted the reliefs sought by the Appellant. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the decision of the trial court was set aside and it was held that the trial court lacked jurisdiction owing to the Appellant’s lack of locus standi. The Appellant then appealed to this court. In dismissing the appeal and affirming the judgment of the Court of Appeal, it was held that Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution does not permit a political party to interfere in the internal affairs of another. My Lord Ogunwumiju, JSC elucidated on the extent of Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution thus: “While Section 285(14)(c) talks about how the political party can challenge the decision of INEC, it relates to any decision of INEC directly against the interest of that political party. It cannot be stretched to include the inactions/actions of INEC in respect of nomination for an election by another political party. So, pre-election and election matters are governed by laws made specially to regulate proceedings. See NWAOGU v. INEC (2008) LPELR 4644, SA’AD v. MAIFATA (2008) LPELR-4915. In this case, the 2nd Appellant has absolutely no cause of action since the party purportedly in violation of the Electoral Act is not his party. In the case of the political party, no other interpretation can be given to the provision than that the political party has a right of action against INEC where it rejects the nomination of its candidates, where it proposes unsuitable timetable or its registration of voters or register of voters or other activities of INEC are against the interest of that political party. Section 285(14)(c) cannot extend to challenge INEC’s conduct in relation to another political party irrespective of whether such conduct by the other party is wrongful or unlawful. Section 285(14)(c) cannot clothe a party with the locus to dabble into INEC’s treatment or conduct in respect of another political party. No matter how manifestly unlawful an action is, it is the person with the locus standi to sue who can challenge it in a Court of law. See Suit SC/CV/1628/2022 APC & ANOR v. INEC & ORS delivered on 3/2/23.” — A. Jauro, JSC.

Available:  Atiku, PDP v. INEC, Tinubu, APC (SC/CV/935/2023, 26th day of October, 2023)

⦿ EXERCISING SECTION 22 OF THE SUPREME COURT ACT – A CONDITION IS THAT THE TRIAL COURT SHOULD ALSO BE ABLE TO ADJUDICATE
Now, if this court is to consider the merit of the suit, it will only be able to do so by invoking its power to step into the shoes of the trial court under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act. For this court to invoke and exercise its powers under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, one of the conditions that must be fulfilled is that the court below or the trial court, as the case may be, must have the power or jurisdiction to adjudicate over the matter. In other words, under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, this court cannot make an Page 36 of 41 order or exercise the power that the trial court or the lower court cannot rnake or exercise. See DANLADI V. UDI (2022) 9 NWLR (PT. 1834) 185; EBEBI V. OZOBO (2022) 1 NWLR (PT. 1810) 165; IDIAGBON V. A.P.C. (2019) 18 NWLR (PT. 1703) 102; ARDO V. INEC (2017) 13 NWLR (PT. 1583) 450; ADAMU V. STATE (2017) 10 NWLR (PT. 1574) 463 … While this court is conferred with wide powers by Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, the powers can only be exercised within the confines of the competence of the trial court or the lower court. Once the power of the court has ceased, the power of this court under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act also automatically ceases. Hence, this court has no power to delve into the merits of the appeal. A similar issue came up for determination in two recent decisions of this court, and it was held that this court cannot exercise its jurisdiction under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act once the trial court or the lower court as the case may be has lost its own jurisdiction. See SAMUEL V. APC & ORS (2023) LPELR – 59831 (SC); EZENWANKWO v. APGA & ORS (2022) LPELR 57884 (SC). — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ THE SUPREME COURT AS A POLICY HAS TO PREVENT VEXATIOUS APPEALS
This court is a policy court and it has a responsibility of ensuring that vexatious or manifestly incompetent appeals and actions are not brought before it or before any court at all. The Supreme Court as an institution must strongly stand against and discourage the filing of suits that ridicule the judiciary as a whole. The instant appeal and the suit that gave rise to it are a colossal and an unnecessary fool’s errand. Counsel should do better to advise and discourage their clients against filing these sort of actions in the future. — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ APPEAL TO SET ASIDE COST AWARDED AGAINST COUNSEL SHOULD PROVIDE TENABLE REASON
Before I round off, learned senior counsel for the Appellant has urged this court to set aside the costs of #5 million awarded against J.O. Olotu, Esq, counsel who settled the Appellant’s brief at the lower court. Without belabouring the point, let me state clearly that the Appellant has not placed before this court, any tenable reason or argument why the lower court’s order as to costs should be set aside or interfered with. Hence, the Appellant’s prayer in that regard is refused. — A. Jauro, JSC.

⦿ CASES SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN TO APPLY WHERE THE FACTS ARE DIFFERENT
It is an age-old principle that it is the facts and circumstances of each case that determines judicial authorities that Counsel ought to cite in support of their argument Adegoke Motors v. Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (109) 250, S.A.P. Ltd v. Min., Petroleum Resources (2018) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1616) 391. This principle is time-tested to the extent that it has assumed a sacred and inviolable status. In Siry v. Pilot (1625) Popham 166, a 398 years old case, Crewe, CJ, enthused that “in our law every case hath its stand or fall from a particular reason or circumstance”. 342 years ago, Sir F. Pemberton reiterated the principle in L.C.J, Fitzharris’ case (1681) 8 How. Tr. 280 that “every case stands upon its own bottom”, and in Fisher v. Prince (1763) 3 Burr. 1364, Lord Mansfield, who spoke 260 years ago, very aptly held in that case that “the reason and spirit of cases make law; not the letter of particular precedents”. In Nigeria, Oputa, JSC embossed the following evergreen restatement of the law when he stated in Okafor V. Nnaife (1987) 4 NWLR (Pt.64) 129 that: “Justice and fairness demand that the ratio of any case should not be pulled in by the hair of the head and made willy nilly to apply to cases where the surrounding circumstances are different”. — A.A. Augie, JSC.

⦿ THE CASE OF UCHE NWOSU DOES NOT APPLY TO THIS
So, for the decision of this Court in Uche Nwosu’s case to apply mutatis mutandis, the fourth Respondent, who the Appellant contends has offended the law, would need to have contested two Primary Elections, emerged winners of both, and had his name forwarded by both Parties as their respective candidates for the 2023 General Election. Did he purchase a second nomination form to warrant stepping into the Appellant’s shoes in Uche Nwosu V. APP (supra), and thus, invite the same pronouncement thereat on himself? No; the fourth Respondent was not required to buy any nomination form. He was the second Respondent [APC]’s candidate at the election into the Office of Senator representing the Borno Central Senatorial District. But before the election could hold, he was nominated as the third Respondent’s associate, who is to occupy the office of Vice-President. The fourth Respondent did not buy a nomination form for the said office, and most importantly, did not contest any primary election in order to emerge as APC’s Vice-Presidential candidate. Given these acute dissimilarities, can the facts of the two cases be the same? Can such a scenario come within the parameters of Section 35 of the said Act? I think not; this cannot be the intention of the lawmaker as that will lead to absurdity. It is the law that statutes should be given their natural meaning, except to do so will lead to absurdity Toriola V. Williams (1982) 7 SC 27/46, Nonye V. Anyichie (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt. 910) 623, (2005) 1 SCNJ 306 at 316. — A.A. Augie, JSC.

Available:  Panalpina World Transport (Nigeria) Limited v. N. T. Wariboko (1975)

⦿ KNOWINGLY MEANS FULL AWARENESS
The word “knowingly” simply means in full awareness or consciousness or deliberately. — Ogunwumiju, JSC.

⦿ WITHDRAWAL TAKES EFFECT FROM THE DELIVERING OF A WRITTEN NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL
I agree with the views of Learned SAN for the 3rd respondent and Learned Counsel for the 4th respondent. It is glaring from the provision of S.31 of the Electoral Act 2022 that the withdrawal takes effect from when the nominated candidate submitted the notice of his or her withdrawal to the political party that nominated him or her. S. 31 prescribe how the withdrawal is done by the nominated candidate. It states thusly”by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by him to the political party that nominated him or her”. S. 31 prescribes what the political party should do upon receipt of its nominated candidate’s withdrawal. It states that it may convey the withdrawal to INEC not later than 90 days to the election. It is glaring from the express wordings of S.31 of the Electoral Act 2022 that the legislative intention is that the withdrawal should take effect upon the nominated candidate personally delivering a written notice of his withdrawal to the political party and not when the political party conveys it to INEC. — E.A. Agim, JSC.

⦿ WHETHER WITHDRAWAL AFTER OR BEFORE NOMINATION HOLDS NO WEIGHT FOR DOUBLE NOMINATION
Assuming, 15-7-2022 when the 2nd respondent filled and submitted the prescribed INEC Form for withdrawal of candidate in exhibit 6, is taken as the effective date of withdrawal, the contention that 4th respondent’s nomination as vice presidential candidate on 14-7-2022 amount to multiple nomination still remains invalid. The facts would still not show multiple nomination of the 4th respondent. What is obvious from the facts is that the 4th respondent who had earlier been nominated by his party as Senatorial candidate was given another option or alternative to be the party’s Vice Presidential candidate. He accepted the second option with a manifest intention and action to relinquish the former nomination as Senatorial candidate. He withdrew the nomination as a Senatorial candidate and was thereafter nominated as Vice Presidential candidate. Upon his withdrawal as Senatorial candidate, the party nominated another person to replace him. His prompt and immediate withdrawal as Senatorial candidate demonstrate clearly that he had no intention, design, purpose or plan to hold two nominations and be the party’s candidate in elections in two constituencies. Whether he withdrew before or after being nominated as Vice Presidential candidate is of no moment. Multiple nomination within the terms of S.35 of the Electoral Act does not occur simply because he accepted a second nomination … The sequence of the occurrence of the events is not what determines the existence of multiple nomination. It is the intention, design or purpose to hold two more nominations as candidate for election that shows that the person so nominated knowingly did so. The 2nd respondent did not intend that the 4th respondent should be its candidate for Borno Central Senatorial Election and its Vice Presidential candidate for the Presidential election and the 4th respondent did not understand or know that he was so nominated. — E.A. Agim, JSC.

⦿ EACH CASE IS ONLY AN AUTHORITY FOR WHAT IT DECIDES
Let me emphasise here, and it is important to always bear in mind that the decision of a court must always be considered in the light of its own peculiar facts and circumstances. No one case is identical to another though they may be similar. Thus, each case is only an authority for what it decides. It cannot be applied across board. The case of Nwosu (supra) is different in all expects from the instant appeal and cannot be applied without more. See Skye Bank Plc & Anor. Vs. Chief Moses Bolanle Akinpelu (2010) 9 NWLR (Pt.1198), Okafor Vs. Nnaife (1987)4 NWLR (Pt.64)129, Peoples Democratic Party Vs. INEC (2018) LPELR-44373 (SC). — J.I. Okoro, JSC.

⦿ RESORTING TO SOCIAL MEDIA TO SET BOO BY TRAPS FOR THE COURTS
From all I have endeavored to say above, it is seen that this appeal is one of the frivolous appeals that this court has been inundated with in recent times. And in this type of appeal, the promoters resort to social media to set booby traps for the court in order to blackmail it. This is quite unfortunate and I can only advice the perpetrators to desist from such activities. This appeal lacks merit and is dismissed by me. I abide by the order as to costs in the Lead Judgment. — J.I. Okoro, JSC.

➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Adamu Jauro, JSC

➥ APPEARANCES
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT
Joe Agi, SAN

⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT
Adebiyi Adetosoye, Esq for 1st Respondent;
Babatunde Ogala, SAN for 2nd Respondent;
Omosanya Popoola, Esq for 3rd Respondent;
Oluronke Adeyemi, Esq for 4th Respondent.

➥ CASE FACT/HISTORY
The appeal herein is against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division delivered on 24th March, 2023, in appeal No. CA/ABJ/CV/108/2023, wherein the court dismissed the appeal of the Appellant and affirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, which had, in its judgment delivered on 13th January, 2023, upheld the Respondent’s objection to the Appellants’ suit and by extension, the jurisdiction of the trial court.

The Appellant is in essence challenging the qualification of the 4th Respondent on the ground that he allowed himself to be nominated in more than one constituency ahead of the 2023 Presidential election. The 4th Respondent was alleged to still be the 2nd Respondent’s candidate for Borno Central Senatorial District as at 14th July, 2022 when he accepted his nomination as the party’s candidate for the position of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was alleged to have withdrawn his nomination as candidate of the 2nd Respondent for Borno Central Senatorial District on 15th July, 2022, after he had already accepted his nomination for the position of Vice President. This claim was denied by the 2nd – 4th Respondents who stated that the 4th Respondent withdrew his candidacy as the 2nd Respondent’s Senatorial candidate by his letter addressed to the party on 6th July, 2022. All the Respondents challenged the trial court’s jurisdiction on the grounds that the suit was statute barred as the alleged cause of action accrued on 14th July, 2022, but the suit was filed on 28th July, 2022, 15 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action complained of in the suit; that the Appellant lacked locus standi, that the suit did not disclose a reasonable cause of action; that it constituted an abuse of court process as a similar suit was pending before another Judge of the same court, D.U. Okorowo, J, when it was filed; and that the suit was caught by estoppel per rem judicatam, as the other suit earlier referred to had been struck out for being incompetent.

➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION(S)
[APPEAL DISMISSED]

I. Whether the two lower courts were right to hold that by virtue of Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act 2022, the Appellant has no locus standi to challenge the internal affairs of the 2nd Respondent?

RULING: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR.
A. THE APPELLANT HAS NO LOCUS STANDI TO INSTITUTE THIS ACTION
[‘The above subsection [section 84(14) Electoral Act] clearly vests locus standi only on an aspirant who complains that any of the provisions of the Electoral Act and the guidelines of a political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election. The subsection and its predecessor, Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) have been subject of interpretation by this court in an innumerable number of cases and the court has been firm and consistent in holding that only an aspirant who participated in the primary election of a political party can institute an action pursuant to Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act. Thus, for a Plaintiff to have locus standi to challenge the nomination of a candidate of a political party under Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, he must be a member of the party in question and he must be an aspirant who actually participated in the primary election leading to the nomination of the party’s candidate. See WAZIRI V. P.D.P. (2023) 7 NWLR (PT. 1882) 57; ODUAH V. OKADIGBO (2019) 3 NWLR (PT. 1660) 433; MAIHAJA V. GAIDAM (2018) 4 NWLR (PT. 1610) 454; SHINKAFI V. YARI (2016) 7 NWLR (PT. 1511) 340; TARZOOR V. IORAER (2016) 3 NWLR (PT. 1500) 463.’

Available:  Adeniji V. The State (2001) - SC

‘The Appellant not being a member of the 2nd Respondent or a person who participated in the nomination process leading to the emergence of the 4th Respondent lacks locus under Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act.’

‘It is therefore abundantly clear that a political party that files a suit to challenge the nomination of the candidate of another party will be a nosy busybody, a meddlesome interloper, peeping into the affairs of his neighbour without any backing in law. No court of law can entertain such a suit. The Appellant by its Originating Summons and affidavit in support failed to disclose any nexus between the actions of the Respondents and its suit and it has failed to show which harm it has suffered or that it stands to potentially suffer from the actions complained of. In fact, no dispute has been shown to exist between the Appellant and the Respondents. On these premises, I am in complete agreement with the learned Justices of the lower court that the Appellant lacked locus standi to institute and maintain its action at the trial court. The issue is therefore resolved in favour of the Respondents and against the Appellant.’]
.
.
.
✓ DECISION:
‘In conclusion, the appeal is grossly lacking in merit and it is hereby dismissed. The judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division delivered on 24th March, 2023, including the costs awarded therein, is hereby affirmed. Costs in this appeal assessed at #2,000,000.00 (two million Naira), which is to be paid by the Appellant to the Respondent.’

➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS

➥ REFERENCED (LEGISLATION)
Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act provides thus: “Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act or rules of a political party, an aspirant who complains that any of the provisions of this Act and the guidelines of a political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election, may apply to the Federal High Court for redress.”

Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022 states clearly as follows: “A candidate may withdraw his candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by the candidate to the Political Party that nominated him for the election and the Political Party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election.”

➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
⦿ ONLY ASPIRANT CAN CHALLENGE PRIMARIES OF A PARTY AND MUST BE HIS OWN PARTY
In AL-HASSAN V. ISHAKU (2016) 10 NWLR (PT. 1520) 230, this court per Peter-Odili, JSC in interpreting Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) at 281, Paras DH, held thus: “Indeed, this court has settled the matter in a plethora of judicial authorities that it is only candidate/aspirant at the primaries of a party that has the locus standi to complain about the conduct of such primaries and so, the grouse of the appellants have nothing to stand on as they are clearly interlopers in regard to how the 1st respondent emerged as candidate and also how, where and when the 2nd respondent produced its candidate. Therefore, no matter how loudly the appellants shout on the irregularity, impropriety of the primaries of the 1st and 2nd respondents, the noise will remain unheard and unattended to, coming from those whose voices ought not to be heard in the internal matters of another. I refer to the following cases for assistance being: Onuoha v. Okafor (1983) 14 NSCC 494, (1983) 2 SCNLR 244; Dalhatu v. Turaki (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt.843) 310; Ardo v. Nyako (2014) LPELR 22878 (SC), (2014) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1416) 591; Emeka v. Okadigbo (2012) 18 NWLR (Pt.1331) 55 at 88; PDP v. Sylva (2012) All FWLR (Pt.637) 606 at 654, (2012) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1316) 85.”

⦿ PURPOSIVE INTERPRETATION WHEN LITERAL INTERPRETATION WILL LEAD TO ABSURDITY
Office of Governor, Adamawa State PDP V. INEC (1999) 11 NWLR (Pt. 626) 200 SC, the natural words of the Constitution at the time only allowed for the assumption of office by a Deputy in the event of the Governor’s death and at page 249 in PDP V. INEC (supra), Wali, JSC, very aptly observed as follows: “Where literal interpretation of a word or words used in an enactment will result in an absurdity or injustice, it will be the duty of the Court to consider the enactment as a whole with a view to ascertain whether the language of the enactment is capable of any other fair interpretation, or whether it may not be desirable to put a secondary meaning on such language, or even to adopt a construction which is not quite strictly grammatical Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Bonnie Haruna were simultaneously elected as Governor and Deputy Governor of Adamawa State by the electorate of that State. Each must have his own supporters that had voted for him. Each has, therefore, acquired a right by being elected. If the narrow and literal interpretation applied to Section 37(1) of the Decree by the Court of Appeal is adopted, the end result will be that Mr. Bonnie Haruna, through no process of a successful election petition lodged against his election, is being deprived of the mandate given to him by the people of Adamawa State. It is manifest from the fact in this case that principles of justice require that where something is not expressly provided for in an enactment, the Court, in interpreting such enactment, will take into consideration the spirit and meaning of the enactment as a whole and construe it accordingly. To arrive at a just and fair decision, we must bear in mind the provision of Section 45(1) of the Decree, which though not in force at the time this action was instituted, but has adequately provided for a situation as the one at hand, such as resignation, permanent incapacity or removal for any other reason. The act of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar can be likened to permanent incapacity or even death in the given situation. The word “dies” in Section 37(1) of the Decree, in my view, expresses only a more permanent form of incapacity. If comparison of one clause with the rest of the enactment makes certain preposition clear and undoubted, it must be construed accordingly so as to make it a constant and harmonious whole. To adhere to the literal construction put on Section 37(1) of the Decree as done by the Court of Appeal, will lead to manifest injustice being visited on the 2nd Appellant. The word “dies” used in that Section, and having regard to Section 45(1) of the said Decree, needs to be modified to include and cover the situation created by the departure of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in order to avoid any inconvenience and manifest injustice to the 2nd Appellant. Courts may resort to purposive interpretation if they can find in the Statute read as a whole, or in material to which they are permitted by law to refer as aids to interpretation, an expression of legislature’s purpose and policy.”

➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)

End

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