AN APPRAISAL OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF PROOF IN THE HEARING AND DETERMINATION OF ELECTION PETITION IN NIGERIA
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.