CASE TITLE: WINSTON v. MAJOR & ORS (2023) LPELR-61368 (CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 25TH NOVEMBER, 2023
PRACTICE AREA: ELECTION PETITION
LEAD JUDGMENT: MUHAMMED LAWAL SHUAIBU, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on Election Petition.
This appeal emanated from the judgment of the National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Rivers State, Abuja, delivered on September 28, 2023. The appellant, who was the petitioner at the trial Tribunal, contested the election for Akuku Toru State Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly held on March 18, 2023.
In the petition filed on April 7, 2023, the appellant sought several reliefs, including a declaration that the 1st Respondent was not duly elected, an assertion that the return of the 1st Respondent was unlawful, and a request to be declared the winner of the election. The Tribunal, however, dismissed the petition, stating that the petitioner failed to prove their case.
Dissatisfied with the Tribunal’s decision, the appellant has brought this appeal to contest the dismissal and seeks a review of the judgment.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:
The Court determined the appeal on a sole issue, viz:
“Whether, from the state of pleadings and evidence adduced, the Tribunal was right in holding that the Appellant failed to discharge the evidential burden placed on him and subsequently dismissed the petition?”
In the final analysis, the Court dismissed the appeal.
- APPEAL – NATURE OF APPEAL – Nature of an appeal
- APPEAL – GROUND(S) OF APPEAL – Whether ground(s) of appeal as well as issue(s) formulated therefrom must arise from the ratio decidendi of the decision appealed against
- APPEAL – GROUND(S) OF APPEAL – Effect of complaint about the form of a ground of appeal where the parties to the appeal and the Court are not misled by the contents
- ELECTION PETITION – BURDEN OF PROOF – Burden of proof in an election petition and when same shifts
- ELECTION PETITION – ALLEGATION OF NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE ELECTORAL ACT – Duty of a petitioner in proving allegation of non-compliance with the Electoral Act
- ELECTION PETITION – GROUNDS FOR CHALLENGING AN ELECTION – What a petitioner who alleges that the respondent was not elected by majority of lawful votes must show
- EVIDENCE – PUBLIC DOCUMENT – Whether a party, faced with non-compliance to produce public documents following a subpoena, must pursue alternative means to present said documents before the Court
- INTERPRETATION OF DOCUMENT – INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE – Circumstance where the principle or doctrine of incorporation by reference is applied
- ELECTION PETITION – ELECTION PETITION PROCEEDINGS – Effect of failure to tender frontloaded document in evidence in an election petition proceeding
- ELECTION PETITION – BURDEN OF PROOF – Burden of proof of allegations in an election petition; whether a petitioner seeking to succeed on the strength of his case