What constitutes the ‘filing’ of an election Petition

On what constitutes the Filing of an election Petition

Merely giving the election petition to the Registrar of the tribunal for assessment is not a valid presentation of an election petition.

In Okpoido v. Udoikpong (1999) 5 NWLR (Part 604) 595 at page 609 para B to C, the Court of Appeal, per Obadina JCA, instructively noted that a presentation of a petition is not complete until assessed fees are paid an relevant receipt issued. In the words of Obadina JCA,

To constitute a proper and valid presentation of an election petition the petitioner or his solicitor shall leave the election petition with the secretary of the tribunal and the secretary shall give a receipt which shall be in Form TF 001 set out in Schedule 6 to Decree No. 36 of 1998. See paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 5 to the Decree.

Merely giving the election petition to the secretary or registrar of the tribunal for assessment will not constitute a valid presentation of an election petition,. Even if all fees shown in paragraph 4 of Schedule 5 to the Decree are paid, it will not constitute a valid presentation for the petition until the secretary has given a receipt for the payments. See paragraph 4(4) of Schedule 5 to the Decree. Payment of requisite fees by the petitioner or his solicitor and giving of receipt by the secretary to the tribunal are conditions precedent for an election petition to be properly and validly presented.

Similarly, the Court of Appeal, per Ekpe JCA, gave insight on what constitutes filing of a petition, at page 605para G, when his lordship succinctly stated thus:

the presentation of election petition to the registrar of the tribunal and payment of the requisite filing fees constitute the filing of an election petition.

On effect of failure to pay statutory fees in respect of election petition

In Ilukwe v. Anah (1999) 5 NWLR (part 603) 476 at pp 485-485 para G, the Court of appeal instructively stated thus

If therefore a person who intends to file an election petition fails to pay the prescribed fee for presentation of an election petition, which fee shall be paid on the presentation of the election petition under paragraph 37 of Schedule 5 then he has not presented an election petition within the decree

Similarly, in the case of Remi v. Sunday (1998) 8 NWLR (Pt 613) P. 92 at 103 paras G-H, the Court of Appeal per Mohammed JCA, emphasised the fundamental nature of payment of statutory fees in the following words,

The fees and deposit must be paid at the time of presentation of the petition before the petition is received by the Registrar and any wrongful receipt of the petition by the Registrar will not validate it. Thus since in the instant case the petitioner did not pay the fees and the deposit at the time of presenting the petition, it was not presented as provided by the Decree and for this reason the Tribunal was in error in holding that the petition of the respondents was competent.

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