Barristers & Solicitors
Tribunal quashes Atiku’s allegation of non-compliance with electoral act

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed allegations of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022, filed against the election of President Bola Tinubu by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Delivering judgment on the petition, Justice Stephen Adah said the petitioners failed to substantiate their claim that the election did not comply with the provisions of Sections 134 and 135 of the Electoral Act.

He said, “There has to be sufficient grounds before the petitioners can establish that there was no substantial compliance with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election. The petitioners have in their petition listed some of the facts relating to their complaints of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022. The key facts are in Paragraphs 18, 22, 23,, 25, 28, 29, 35,  36, 37, 38, 39, 40-44, 46, and 48 of the petition. The respondents have issues with the petitioners in respect of this issue and they all denied the facts pleaded by the petitioners.

“In paragraphs 17, 18, 19, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37, the first respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission replied to the petition and denied all the allegations in the petition. The verdict of proof remains on the petitioners to establish their claim as required by the law. Apart from the first respondent who is the primary respondent due to the fact that it is its acts that are challenged in this petition, the second (All Progressives Congress) and third (President Tinubu) respondents who are the beneficiaries of the declaration of the result, vary issues with the petitioners.

“The second respondent in his reply to the petition countered all the petitions pleaded in the case of the issue. The third respondent countered the petitioners’ allegations in paragraphs 36, 37, and 40 in his reply to the petition.

“Non-compliance means failure to or refusal to do something that you are officially or statutorily required to do. The Electoral Act 2022 in an explicit manner has laid clear ground on which election can be questioned in Section 134 thereof and Section 135 which looks like a proviso to Section 134.

“For proper appreciation of the intention of the law, Section 134 and 135 of the  Electoral Act must be considered together. Section 134 (1) says that an election may be questioned on any of the following grounds-
“A person whose election is questioned was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election; the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of this Act.

“And 135 (1) says ‘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 principles of this Act and that the non-compliance did not affect substantially the result of the election.”

That said, Justice Adah held that “This ground of non-compliance with the electoral act has been in all our election laws even when we had a parliamentary system of government.”