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ENGR. GEORGE T.A. NDUUL v. BARR. BENJAMIN WAYO & ORS

(2018) LPELR-45151(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 20th day of July, 2018

SC.1093/2017


Before Their Lordships

WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

EJEMBI EKO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

ENGR. GEORGE T.A. NDUUL - Appellant(s)

AND

1. BARR. BENJAMIN WAYO
2. ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS (APC)
3. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Electoral Matters.
FACTS:
This appeal is against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Makurdi Division, affirming the decision of the Federal High Court, Makurdi Division.

The appellant and the 1st respondent were among five contestants on the platform of the 2nd respondent, who contested the National Assembly primary election conducted by the party on the 10th December 2014 to select its candidate for the House of Representatives for the Kwande/Ushongo Federal Constituency of Benue State in the general election slated for 14th February 2015. There were complaints from some of the aspirants against the candidature of the 1st respondent and one Barr. George Uchi on the ground of non-compliance with the Party's Guidelines, in that they did not pay for the nomination form and did not produce evidence from any of the designated banks to show that they had paid their nomination fee. It was alleged that they did not possess screening certificates. According to the appellant, in spite of the complaints, the primary election was conducted. The 1st respondent won the election by scoring 229 votes. The appellant came second with 110 votes. On 18/12/2014, the 1st respondent's name was forwarded to the 3rd respondent as the party's candidate for the election.

After the election, the appellant appealed to the 2nd respondent's Appeal Committee for the National Assembly Primary Elections for Benue State against the 1st respondent's participation in the primary election. His appeal was successful. The committee recommended that, having scored the highest number of votes among the qualified contestants, he should be considered as the party's candidate. It was the appellant's contention that the National working committee (NWC) of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the 2nd respondent endorsed the finding and recommendation of the appeal committee and directed that he be issued with INEC forms to be immediately forwarded to the 3rd respondent as the party's candidate. Notwithstanding, it was the name of the 1st respondent that was forwarded to the  3rd respondent as the party's candidate. Another complaint of the appellant was that, the 1st respondent was not qualified to contest the primary election because his appointment as a Magistrate with the Benue State Judiciary was terminated for violating the code of conduct for Judicial Officers and for being of "doubtful integrity". Appellant therefore proceeded against the respondents, at the trial Court.

Pleadings were filed an exchanged and the matter proceeded to trial, after which the trial Court dismissed appellant's suit. Dissatisfied, he appealed, albeit, unsuccessfully to the Court of Appeal. Appellant further appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
The issues for determination at the Supreme Court are:
1. In view of the extant provisions of Section 240 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act (2010 as amended) and Order 4 Rules 3 and 4 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016, can it be said that the lower Court erred when it considered before it the new issue of the breach of fair hearing of the 1st respondent?
2. Whether the Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right when they upheld the judgment of the trial Court to the effect that the 1st respondent was competent to contest the election and having scored the highest number of votes casts at the primaries, was eligible to have his name sent to the 3rd respondent as the candidate for the 2nd respondent in the general election.
3. Whether the Court of Appeal was right when it held that Section 31 (5) & (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) can only be invoked against a candidate who gives false information in the relevant affidavit or a document submitted by him and the same relates to any of the qualifying or disqualifying factors in Section 65 (1) and 66 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and that the appellant failed to prove the criminal allegation of forgery and perjury against the 1st respondent.

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.


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