…Issue 2 Of The Presidential Election Petitions Court Judgment
By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD
Opinion: There is something special that makes me love Yoruba people very much without prejudice to the views of some of my kinsmen. The average Yoruba man is a pace-setter in intellectual development, talent recognition, stranger accommodation and innovative thoughts in Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion.
Those who deviate from this standard norm today are either of remote Nupe origin and thus anti-Awolowo, or are treacherously influenced by the same Tapa (Nupe)-Yoruba class led by Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This is the class of foreign Yoruba natives that exhibits extreme hatred of the Igbo because of their historical connections with the Fulani. Incidentally most of the members of this class are Muslims, an identity that add to the extreme stance of their hatred of the Igbo who are described as harbingers of Christianity in Nigeria.
It is also among this group that one will find the most corrupt, ideological bankrupt and intellectually delinquent members of the noble Oodua ancestral family. This is the class the likes of Bayo Onanuga, Wole Olanipekun and Lateef Fagbemi classically belong. And this explains why their towering legal carriages are incompatible with their homunculus intellectual legal out-puts, epileptic moral deportments, and dubious political mentality.
In fact going through the legal trajectory of Lateef Fagbemi’s submissions in response to “Issue 2” of the averments of Labour Party and Peter Obi, his intellectual depositions and mental comportments are not only epileptic in character but befuddling display of ingredients of someone picking the crumbs of inveterate lies coloured in ignorance of modern techniques in law practice previously dropped by INEC Counsel, A. B. Mamoud, and Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Lawyer, Wole Olanipekun.
Lateef Fagbemi the Counsel to APC, in his counter-submission on “Issue 2” of the averments of Labour Party and Peter Obi formulated four hypothetical legal questions of which the second directly focused on the subject matter. As he put it this way:
Whether, having regard to the relevant and admissible evidence led by parties, the conduct of the Presidential Election held on the 25th February, 2023 was vitiated by non-compliance that was substantial enough to have affected its outcome and justify nullification of the election as envisaged by the applicable provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, (See page 143 of the Judgment).
It is clear from what we know about Wole Olanipekun’s submissions, including as well those of INEC Counsel A. B. Mamoud that Lateef Fagbemi is only recasting what they had already submitted. The task before us however, is to determine how Fagbemi addressed the same hypothesis from the limitations of his legal knowledge.
From the above hypothetical question, it is obvious that the matter of INEC non-compliance is accepted as factum probans. In other words, like Mamoud and Olanipekun, Fagbemi agreed that there was an element of non-compliance to the Electoral Act, 2022 and INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022. However, the factum probandum is whether such element of non-compliance is substantial enough to warrant the nullification of the Presidential election that saw Bola Ahmed Tinubu clandestinely elected as President? How did Lateef Fagbemi address this factum probandum then?
In his promenade of obsolete legal obscurantism, compounded by his incomprehensible paucity of rational intelligence, Lateef Fagbemi marching with the audacious sense of the authority of a clay-footed legal giant rested his submissions on three nauseating assumptions. The first of such sickening assumptions is that INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of Elections, 2022, is a mere administrative innovation which non-compliance cannot be a basis for the nullification of an already concluded Presidential election. As he put it:
An administrative innovation employed by the 1st Respondent for the uploading of the results does not invalidate an election which has been concluded by the declaration of the results at the polling units, since the law is settled that once the election result has been announced at the polling unit, it cannot be cancelled under any guise.
He went further to cite as the basis of his conclusion the case of Doma v INEC (2012) as reported in 13 NWLR (Pt. 1317) 297 at 338, paragraphs C-D; and that of Ikpeazu v Otti (2016) as reported in 8 NWLR (Pt. 1513) at 84-84, Paragraphs G-B.
Although Lateef Fagbemi did not say if he meant an administrative innovation backed by law or one without the backing of the law, it is however germane to define what an administrative innovation is, vis-à-vis a regulation. In other words, can the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022, be defined as an administrative innovation or a regulation? Furthermore, even without the question of law, can the introduction of BVAS by INEC be described as an administrative innovation or a technological innovation?
According to Hakyeon Lee, J.S. Butler, Joowon Jeong and Hakyeon Lee, in their joint-paper titled: “ADMINISTRATIVE AND TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION: The Indirect Effects of Organizational Culture and Leadership”:
Administrative innovation is defined as changes to the rules and structures that characterize the communication methods and work of employees within an organization, and technological innovation refers to the implementation of programs and services.
The question arising from the above definition is where then do we place BVAS in the light of the above expert definition—administrative or technological innovation? The second question is, was the introduction of BVAS meant for exclusive administrative convenience of members of INEC staff as an organization, given the applicable phrase: “of employees within an organization?” Is it not factual therefore to say that Lateef Fagbemi lied, either out of ignorance or dubious intentions when he described INEC’s introduction of BVAS as mere administrative innovation?
Having done with the meaning of “administrative innovation”, we can now proceed to the meaning of a regulation, particularly as it relates to law. A regulation being a parameter for enforcing the law comes with several related definitions differing depths. For instance, the popular Black Law Dictionary simply defines it as “the act or process of controlling by rule or restriction.” However, of all the plethora of definitions, that of Ivan Kennedy presents the most comprehensive description of the meaning of regulation. According to him:
A regulation is defined as the practices established to control and manage an activity or process. It is where an entity with power and authority in a certain area formulates rules to influence its operations to ensure that it operates as per the formulated rules. It can also be defined as the principles that an authority puts up to determine the direction a system or process takes based on the statutes laid.
There are three key issues that emanate from the foregoing definitions, and these are: first, “Power and Authority”; second, “Procedure” and third, “Compliance.” The inherent “power and authority” in any body of regulations comes with the order, “Shall”, which makes its compliance mandatory, and not optional, like ordinary law. This is common with every paragraph of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022. This inherent power and authority of any body of regulations has its source and corresponding legitimacy from statutes defined in this instance respectively by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, and the Electoral Act, 2022.
PART I, Section 1, sub-section 1 of the Electoral Act, 2022 explicitly states: “The Independent National Electoral Commission as established by section 153 of the Constitution (in this Act referred to as “the Commission.’”
Similarly, paragraph 106 of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for Elections, 2022 states ipso facto:
These Regulations and Guidelines are made pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2022. The Commission may from time to time make additional regulations and guidelines for purposes of conducting elections in the form of amendments to these Regulations and Guidelines, supplements to it or as Schedules all of which shall form part and parcel of these Regulations and Guidelines.
It is therefore clear that Lateef Fagbemi’s use of the term “administrative innovation” was either borne out of ignorance or roguishly applied to veneer his dearth of credible and substantial points of law to present before the court. Otherwise how can a Senior Advocate of Nigeria worth his knowledge in law and prestige descend to such calamitous diminutive level of cacophonous display of morbid intelligence?
Is it not ridiculous that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria will state with shambolic authoritativeness that, “the law is settled that once the election result has been announced at the polling unit, it cannot be cancelled under any guise?” Which law settled this mendacious fabrication? To him, this law was settled in the cases of Doma v INEC (2012) as reported in 13 NWLR (Pt. 1317) 297 at 338, paragraphs C-D; and Ikpeazu v Otti (2016) as reported in 8 NWLR (Pt. 1513) at 84-84, Paragraphs G-B.
Not only are the above cited authorities totally unconnected with the issue under consideration, they simply prove that Lateef Fagbemi is a man of little intelligence who lacks the requisite studious energy demanding of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria of his status. First, the issue under disputation is non-compliance to the Electoral Act, 2022, and INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022.
Section 225.2 of International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) defines Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations thus:
Non-compliance with laws and regulations (“non-compliance”) comprises acts of omission or commission, intentional or unintentional, committed by a client, or by those charged with governance, by management or by other individuals working for or under the direction of a client which are contrary to the prevailing laws or regulations.
Contrarily, the two judgments cited dealt sparingly with not only the cancellation of election results but who has the authority to cancel election results at the ward level. They do not in any manner mean, as Lateef Fagbemi wrongly stated, “that the law is settled that once the election result has been announced at the polling unit, it cannot be cancelled under any guise.”
In Doma v INEC (2012), the Supreme Court held that the Collation Officer for Loco Registration Area of Nasarawa State who appeared as Defence Witness (DW3) lacked the powers to cancel the election result for Oshugu (004) Polling Unit for the reason of “incorrect and inappropriate entries in Form EC8A and EC8A.” The Court went further to affirm that it was only “DW9 the presiding officer who had the vires to do same at the Polling Unit.”
In Ikpeazu v Otti (2016), the Supreme Court, relying on Doma v INEC (2012) above, held that the State Returning Officer had no powers to cancel the results of elections in Osisioma, Isiala Ngwa North and, Obingwa Local Government Areas of Abia State in favour of Alex Otti and against Okechukwu Ikpeazu, therein it states:
In its finding that the State Returning Officer had no power to cancel election results, the court below was agreeing with the settled position of the law, as laid down by this court in DOMA v INEC (supra) to the effect that it was ultra vires the powers of the State Returning Officer to cancel elections. Since in law the State Returning Officer acted ultra vires to cancel election results the 1st Respondent could not have been returned as the winner on the basis of such invalid cancellation.
In his further cacophony of lack of reasonable ideas, Lateef Fagbola submitted that:
The failure to abide by the provisions of paragraph 38 of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022 cannot be a basis for the nullification of the election, since the Regulations cannot override the Electoral Act.
The most reasonable admission of failure from the above assertion is that Lateef Fagbemi agreed that there was non-compliance to paragraph 38 of INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022. But then, how can a rational thinking qualified lawyer of the intellectually urbane Yoruba ethnic nation, not the least a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, speak of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022, as overriding the Electoral Act, 2022?
From which legal source did the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022, originate? What does paragraph 106 of the same INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022, mentioned supra say? Section 148 of the Electoral Act, 2022 authoritatively states: “The Commission may, subject to the provisions of this Act, issue regulations, guidelines, or manuals for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this Act and for its administration.”
Is it not clear from the above submission that Lateef Fagbemi does not even understand the provisions of both the Electoral Act, 2022, and INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022? As if Nigeria is a perpetually accursed nation, this is the same Lateef Fagbemi that is entrusted with the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. How can the Nigerian legal system submit to positive innovations founded on meritocracy and not on moral despondency and intellectual Lilliputism with such a man as Lateef Fagbemi as its Chief Law Officer?
In law, the concept of burden of proof is like a two-way traffic; since it is the responsibility of the opposing parties to establish the facts of their respective cases that will assist the court to reach a decision in their respective favours, as the case may be. It is therefore not an exclusive burden for the plaintiff or Appellant. The defendant or respondent equally has the burden of proving its case beyond all reasonable doubts. The APC Counsel Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, has starkly displayed his incapacity to prove beyond all reasonable doubts why “Issue 2” of the averments of Labour Party and Peter Obi cannot stand.
Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD
Odogwu of Ibusa, Delta State
Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Leader, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN)
Email: Nwaezeigwe.firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://icac-gen.org
Date: 15 October, 2023
N/B: This opinion Only Reflect the thoughts of the writer