PUSH NEWS 24 INTERNATIONAL: March 17th, 2023
The main issues that are currently trending amongst us lawyers include whether or not the Labour Party candidate is qualified to contest the forthcoming gubernatorial election and whether the questions of qualification of a candidate are both pre- and post-primaries issues.
This legal conundrum has suffered several commentaries from lawyers and political analysts. This intervention is to interrogate the legal issues involving the qualifications of candidates; compliance of the political party to the Electoral Act and its party constitution and guidelines in the nomination of candidates and presentation of forged/false documents to the INEC.
In answering questions of qualification of a candidate to contest election, we need to discuss the roles of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in monitoring political parties. It is the law under section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act that once INEC publishes the names of candidates nominated by the political parties in accordance with section 84 of the Electoral Act; such publication is presumed correct and authentic.
The news reaching Push News 24 International confirmed the disqualification of the Labour Party Governorship Candidate for Lagos State, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour from contesting Saturday, March 18, 2023 Governorship election in the State.
The Court ruled that Professor Ifagbemi Awamaridi is the legitimate candidate to contest the election under the banner of the Labour Party (LP).
The Press Release emanated from the Lagos State Chapter of the party was signed by the State Secretary of the party, Sam Okpala.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the LP, Mr Peter obi has been saddened by this decision as he has continually campaigned for Vivour despite been advised earlier about the electoral act and other provisions.
The doctrine of presumption of regularity and correctness ensure in favour of INEC under Section 168 of the Evidence Act. See the case of CPC V. INEC (2011) LPELR – 8257 (SC). However, given that the presumption is rebuttable, any aspirant who participated in the primaries of such political party who has reasonable grounds that information submitted by the candidate is false, may file a suit at the Federal High Court within time frame to challenge the candidature of such person. This is done at pre-election stage.
Moreso, a candidate or political party who participated in an election where a candidate of another political party was elected may question the result announced by INEC by way of a petition at the tribunal or court under Sections 133 and 134 of the Electoral Act, 2022. This is done at post-election stage.
The question that may follow is: what are the grounds upon which the conduct and/or outcome of an election may be questioned by an aggrieved party? Section 134 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides as follows: (1) An election may be questioned on any of the following grounds: (a) A person whose election is questioned was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election; (b) The election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of this Act; or (c) The respondent was not duly elected by the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.