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ABSTRACT

Election petition is the only viable and recognized alternative open to any person or party dissatisfied with the conduct of an election under our laws to ventilate his or her grievance(s). Over the years litigants/petitioners have continued to patronize the election petition tribunals/courts with minimal or no success as most of the petitions ended up being thrown out for noncompliance with the applicable electoral legislation or want of proof. What provoked this research was the need for an appraisal of the requirement of proof in the hearing and determination of election petition with a view to unearthing why it is a near impossibility to prove election petition anchored on some grounds. This research adopts a doctrinal method.
Relevant legislations, textbook, literature and particularly case laws are explored for a good understanding of the requirements of proof under the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. Although there is an attempt by the Electoral Act 2010 as amended to address the issue of time frame for hearing and determination of petition, it failed to address the age long agitation of technicalities in the dispensation of electoral justice. The requirements that noncompliance must not only be substantial but must substantially affect the result of the election and sundry other requirements of proof appear to be a clog in the proof of election petition. It is advocated that electoral umpire and judges should uphold substantial justice over and above technicalities. The requirement of proof of noncompliance should be made optional and a mid-course approach should be adopted in proof of corrupt practices instead of proof beyond reasonable doubt as currently practiced. The thesis contains more revelations and startling recommendations.

CHAPTER ONE
GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1 INTRODUCTION
Elections generally are guided by statutory provisions. Not only must the body to take charge of the conduct of the election be established by law, the regulation of the conduct of the election inter alia the registration of voters, the procedure at an election and act that constitute electoral offences as well as determination of election petition arising from election must be matters for which specific provisions are made. Section 153 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended establishes the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) while the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, in the main, regulates the conduct of Federal, States and Federal Capital Territory Area Council Elections.
Generally, a law to regulate conduct of election must anticipate complaints arising thereof and institutions for investigation and determination of the complaints. The final determination of any complaint arising from an election closes the election process. It is in this latter aspect that this research intends to focus.
It is interesting to note that the procedure for questioning an election is clearly stated in section 133 (1) of the Electoral Act1, herein reproduce thus:
No election and return at an election under this Act shall be questioned in any manner other than by petition complaining of an undue election or undue return {in this Act referred to as an “Election Petition”} presented to the competent tribunal or court in accordance with the provisions of the constitution or of this Act and in which the person elected or joined as a party.

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