Title page………………………………………….          i
Certification………………………………………          ii
Dedication………………………………………..           iii
Acknowledgement ………………………………           iv
Table of contents………………………………..             v
Table of Cases…………………………………..             vi
Table of Status………………………………….             vii
Abbreviations…………………………………..             viii


1.1       Background of the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Research Questions
1.4       Objectives of the Study
1.5       Research Methodology
1.6       The Significance of the Study
1.7       The Scope of the Study


2.1       Introduction
2.2       Origin of Tribunal in Nigeria
2.3       Jurisdiction of election petition in Nigeria
2.3.1   Establishment and constitutive jurisdiction
2.3.2   Subject matter jurisdiction
2.3.3   Parties Jurisdiction
3.1       Introduction
3.2       Ali Ucha  and ors vs Elechi and ors
3.3       Frank Ogbuewu v. Elechi
3.4       Kelvin Opeke v. Election
3.5       Hon Chima v. Hon. Igwenwagu
3.6       Francis Elem v. Tobias Okwuru
3.7       Hon Umunta v Hon Valentine Okike
3.8       Ominyi Egwu and 1 ors v Hon. Peter Ogeali and 2 ors
4.1       Limitation
4.2       Fair Hearing
4.3       Hearing speed
4.4       Evidence
5.1       Observation
5.2       Recommendation
5.3       Conclusion

            Nigeria is heterogeneous and populous. It has about 374 ethnic formations[1]. It is peculiarly plural by vast number of different social groups. Second, by vast number of different religious and traditional occupations. Third, the deep and fundamental differences in attitude, character and culture[2].
            Election is a multi facet challenge in Nigeria. Military incursions into political governance, tribalism, corruption and apathy have deepened the electoral challenges confronting the Nation. Consequently, the structure and dynamics of contemporary electoral process in Nigeria has become complex. Electoral process involves the method through which a person is elected to an office. It is the taking and counting of votes. A cursory discourse of the past electoral process in Nigeria is inevitable for the purposes of clarity of work.
            In historical parlance, the southern and Northern protectorates were mechanically amalgamated into one geographical entity called Nigeria in 1914. Sir Fredrick Lord Luggard became the first governor General. Successively, Sir Hugh Clifford came on board and introduced the 1922 constitution. The remarkable provision made by the said constitution was the introduction of elective principle and the establishment of the Legislative Council.
            All over the world, one of the hallmarks of democracy is the regular and frequent elections to choose who will occupy a position or an office in a peaceful and orderly manner. The need for regularity or election as the basis of electing an occupier of an office is based on the fact that it is about the only way that we can peacefully transit from one person to the other and from one government to another.
            It is imperative to note that, an election is an election, only where the votes of majority counts and is counted notwithstanding the expression of the minority. Whoever eventually emerges as a result of an election will be seen to be representing the people.[3] There is no where in the world where we have a perfect election irrespective of the advancement in economic, political and socio-standing. This is because it is a human endavour, thus, we cannot expect any perfection. Notwithstanding this position, there appears to be irreducible minimum standard in determining a free and fair election. Such determinants includes:  an impartial arbiter, enabling environment, freedom of the electorate to choose their candidate(s), orderliness, to mention a few.
            The realization of the possible imperfections in the electoral system calls for a redress mechanism where an aggrieved individual will ventilate his or her grievances against the outcome of the election. This is the rational behind the institutionalization of election petition all over the world. In Nigeria, we have some election petition tribunals,[4]  established to handle election cases.
            A close study of political landscape today on the approach of politicians to polities convey that a lot still needs to be done to enable us have elections which are free and fair as referred by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria[5]. The major setback on our elections has been a direct effect of corruption in the land, which has transformed into full fledged poverty in the society. Section 16(2) (d)[6] enjoins the State to ensure that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living, wage, old age care and pension, employment, sick benefits and welfare of disabled are provided for all citizens. In situation where all these are not in place as we currently have in Nigeria, elections are far from being free and fair.
            Since elections are virtually free and fair, disputes are common after math. It is therefore imperative to in all intents that aggrieved parties should not take laws into their hands, as the 1999 constitution[7] provides for the establishment of one or more election tribunals, which shall to the exclusion of any other court or tribunal, have original jurisdiction to hear or determine petitions. Its subsection 2 indicates the establishment of the State election tribunal to be known as the Governorship and Legislative House Election Tribunal which should have the original jurisdiction to hear the petitions as to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of the governor or as a member of any legislative House. In this work, we shall concentrate on the Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria, using Ebonyi State as a case study.
There appears to be a rise in the election disputes in Nigeria. This should not be seen as a weakness of the system as it must be acknowledged that election disputes are inherent in the electoral process. Thus, such rise in number should rather be viewed as an indication of the strength, vigour, robustness, vitality and openness of the democratic system rather than as signs of weakness in the system.
    The fair and timely resolution of electoral disputes is a critical part of any electoral process and there is a word-wide consensus that those availing themselves of formal adjudication process should be entitled to a quick and soft resolution of their disputes by an independent and impartial tribunals, in this case, the Election Petition Tribunal was established to handle disputes arising from the conduct of election in various states of the federation. The problem of quick resolution of electoral disputes appears to be the main challenge of Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria. The tardiness in resolution of electoral disputes appears to be the rational for the view that the courts should hands off election petitions. In Nwodo V. Onoh,[8] Showemimo CJN enthused:
“Academic lawyers have indicated that the courts of justice are not competent to deal with elections… in some cases the decisions of the courts were regarded as an assumption of jurisdiction of voters in their different decisions as to who they voted for to govern or represent them. Thus is a misconception. What the courts are called up to deal with are the application of legal principles to the different elections filed before them. The academic exercise to oust the jurisdiction of a court in election petition is welcome but I do hope that such attempts should be directed to legislature….”
The first major hotly contested election petition in Nigeria, in my view, was the celebrated case of Awolowo v. Shagari,[9] where Chief Obafemi Awolowo who lost out at the general election held on 11th August 1979 filed a petition against Alahaji Shehu Shagari who was declared the winner of the election. It is intended in this paper to critically appraise the Decision Election Petition Tribunals in Nigeria, using Ebonyi State as a case study Jurisdiction of Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria, assessment of the decisions of Election Petition Tribunal in some States in Nigeria, using Ebonyi State as a case study way forward and conclusion.
1.2       Statement of the Problem.
            As noted earlier in the background of this work, the conduct of election is not always free and fair. As a result of this, disputes resulting in the irregular conduct of elections abound. And these disputes must be resolved for both parties to be happy and for justice to be attained. Lots of laws have been made to regulate the conduct of election in Nigeria, yet, disputes are always the out come of almost every election in Nigeria. Similarly, many election tribunals have being established for the primary purpose of resolving election disputes in Nigeria. In this case, the Election Petition Tribunal which was established to handle disputes arising from the conduct of Election. Scholars have not minced words voicing their views on this area, even though at the moment, few text books have been written on  election petition tribunal in Nigeria. Even such works as exist only treat cases decided by different election petition tribunals. It appears that election petition tribunal is a no-go-area for Nigeria writers. This is an observation we arrived by brief literature review. This is because the issue of disputes arising from the conduct of election is left for the tribunal.
            Another problem in this area is that the power of the Election Petition Tribunal to hear and determine petition is not final. This is because an appeal from the tribunal goes to Court of Appeal. It therefore means that the decision of election tribunal are not final, since such judgments are subjected to the supervision of the Court of Appeal by way of appeal. Lack of free and fair election or irregularities in the conduct of  election is another problem. This is so, because it is these irregularities sometime that give rise to petitions in the  Election Petition Tribunals in Nigeria.
            All these point to the fact that there is need further regulation of the conduct of persons towards election activities in Nigeria. Hence, this study seeks to take a wholistic approach in appraising the decision of Election Tribunal in Nigeria in order to ascertain the adequacy or otherwise of such decision. It also seek to suggest a way forward.
1.3       Research Questions
The following questions are what this study aims to answer.
(a)       Whether the decision of the Election Petition are adequate enough to satisfy the parties to a case?
(b)       Whether the Election Petition Tribunal has been observing the provisions of the Electoral Act and other rules and regulations in delivering its decisions.
(c)       Given that some laws have been for the purpose of settling disputes arising from the conduct of election, can we say that the problem in this area is the law or the tribunal charged with the function of resolving this disputes?
(d)       Can we say that the decision of the election petition in Nigeria reflect the spirit of democracy, going by the current state of affairs in the country?
(e)       What is the way forward?
1.4       Objectives of the Study
            The Objective of the study is to critically appraise the decision of the  Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria and specifically to;
a.         Determine the adequacy or otherwise of the decision of the  Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria, using Ebonyi State as a case study.
b.         Determine the adequacy or otherwise of certain provisions of the Electoral Act in resolving election disputes arising form the conduct of election in Nigeria using Ebonyi State as a case study.
c.         Determine the problems which have been militating against the  Election Petition Tribunal in delivering its decision in Nigeria using Ebonyi State as a case study.
d.         Determine the extent which decision of Election Petition Tribunal reflect the spirit of democracy in Nigeria.
e.         To make a case for the giving of more attention in this area of the law.
f.          To make recommendations for the way forward.
1.5       Research Methodology
            The procedure in arriving at the judgments of the election petition tribunal is mostly regulated by statute. Hence, in writing this work, much reliance will be placed on the primary source of data i.e. statutes, subsidiary instruments and most especially judicial authorities.
               Secondary sources of data will also be of immense help in clarifying some knotty issues. In this age of information technology (IT), we cannot but exploit the opportunities presented by internet, in order to know the current views of writers in this area and as well acquaint ourselves with the trend of other jurisdictions.
1.6       The Significance of the Study
            The study on critical appraisal of decision of the Election Petition in Nigeria will definitely go a long way in finding solution to the problem in this area of law.
            The study will be useful to the following people and institutions.
The Government: The state government will find this study useful as a guide in policy making, especially on the area of performance of the Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria using Ebonyi State as a case study.
The Tribunal The Election Petition Tribunal of various States in Nigeria will find this study handy in delivering its decision.
Researchers and Students: Judgments of the Election Petition Tribunal is one of the most controversial area in our legal systems, this study will serve as a useful guide and reference point to researchers and students, whenever they are faced with any problem in this area.
            As a follow-up, law teachers will equally find this study as a useful material in preparing their lecture note in this area of law. This study has been designed in such a way that it incorporates almost every area of Law and it is aimed at contributing to scholarship and expansion of knowledge.
1.7       Scope of the Study
            The concept of election is enshrined in every modern constitution anywhere in the World, because it is a process by which people choose their leaders. And dispute is almost always the outcome of every election anywhere in the world that election is held. These disputes normally give rise to petitions in the Tribunal or Courts as the case may be for the purpose of determination. In order to appreciate the objective and result of this study, we will restrict the critical appraisal of decision of the Election Petition Tribunal, in Nigeria using Ebonyi State as a case study.
            Finally, our appraisal will be restricted to the decision of the Election Petition Tribunal in Ebonyi State of Nigeria, with a view to discovering any defect in such decision.
1.8       Limitations of the Study
            The study on the critical appraisal of the decision of the Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria like every other discussion on law and humanity has certain inherent limitations. Some of these limitations arise from the fact that this area has not received much of the attention of Nigerian legal scholars. Sad enough, this area of law is not treated as a topic in any university. Also, the attitude of the tribunals and courts constitutes another limitation.
            Other limitations include: time in writing this work, the writer lacked enough time owing to the fact that he has been combining it with his other class assignments. Also, the writer lacked resources to embark on the voyage of discovering beyond the confines of this institution of learning.

[1] Justice I.A Umezulike “An Overview of  communal conflicts in Nigeria: Our skeptical view and suggestions. Nigerian Bar. Journal, vol 2, 2003, p. 151.
[2] B.O. Nwabueze, Ideas and facts in constitutional making. Spectrum books Ltd, Ibadan, 2003, p. 221. General Muhammad Burhari  v. INEC and 4 ors (2006) 36 NSCOE) 475 at p. 698 para. B.C.
[3] Emeka Umeagbalasi-The Concept of election monitoring/Observation in Nigeria is rougish and outdated. How can Nigeria civil society organizations abet election rigging. http/wwww.Saharareports.Com/press-release/concept-election visited 22/07/2012.
[4] Governorship and Legislative House, Presidential Election Petition and the National Assembly Election Petition, Tribunals
[5] Sections 15-18 of the 1999 constitution as amended
[6] Section 16 (2) (d) ibid.
[7] Section 285, ibid.
[8] Nwodo v. Onoh (1984) I.S.C.pg 1
[9] Awolowo v. Shagari (1979) 12 NSCC. Page 87 

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