When not to challenge results of concluded polls, by Falana

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By Adebisi Onanuga

 

Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has explained when results of concluded elections cannot be challenged.

He said a pre-election matter cannot constitute a post-election matter and be determined after the poll.

The lawyer said once an election has been conducted and concluded, its results cannot be challenged in a trial or appellate court via a pre-election matter.

His explanation is contained in a statement yesterday in Lagos, titled: Why the Law Requires Pre-election Cases to be Decided Before Elections.

Falana said the decision of the Supreme Court on last year’s Bayelsa State governorship election was anchored on the assumption that a pre-election matter could be heard and determined after the conclusion of an election.

He said: “The jurisdiction of any court to hear a pre-election matter has been completely ousted by Section 285 (2) of the Constitution, which provides that the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal shall, ‘to the exclusion of any court or tribunal, have jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of governor or deputy governor of a state’.”

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Although the pre-election matter filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidates in Bayelsa Stare had been rested by the judgment, Falana argued that “since an unqualified candidate is expected to be disqualified from contesting the election, the pre-election matter praying for his or her disqualification has to be decided before the election”.

“Having regards to the fact that the nomination of governorship candidate and deputy governorship candidate is a joint ticket, Section 182 (1) of the Constitution provides that no person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if he or she fails to meet the conditions stipulated in the section, including the presentation of a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The same prerequisites are applicable to a deputy governorship candidate pursuant to Section 187 (2) of the Constitution.

“As far as Section 285 of the Constitution is concerned, a pre-election matter can no longer be turned into a post-election matter and determined after the election…”