Dickson v. Sylva  10 NWLR (Pt. 1573) 299 at 341-342, paras. B-C, per Sanusi, JSC:
“As rightly conceded by the learned silk for the appellant, issue of qualification is a pre-election matter as well as a post election matter. Thus, the tribunal, the Court of Appeal and indeed this court can take cognizance of it. As could be seen from the wordings of section 138(1)(a) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), issue of qualification of a candidate to contest an election could be a ground in an election petition to question election of a declared winner. Such a ground could be fought both at the tribunal as well as at the normal or conventional High Courts as both the tribunal and High Courts have jurisdiction. This court however held in the case of Dangana v. Usman (2013) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1349) 50 at 89 that where an aggrieved candidate or party decides to lodge his or its complaint/suit in the High Court, then he can continue to pursue his grievance up to this apex court which is obviously his final destination or bus stop. But if such candidate chooses to lodge his complaint at the election tribunal, if it is on National or State Assembly election, then the [final] bus stop is the Court of Appeal. In view of the provisions of section 246(3) of the 1999 Constitution. The choice therefore remains with the candidate.”
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The position of the Supreme Court as stated above is quite explicit.
One important lesson we learnt from the case is that the case presents us with what clearly appears to be an exception. The facts of the case (earlier summarized here in a case involving both parties) are that the Appellant contested an election into the office of the Governor of Bayelsa State and was declared and returned as the winner. The 1st and 2nd Respondents challenged the Appellant’s return at the Election Tribunal. In his reply to the Petition, the Appellant raised the issue of the qualification of the 1st Respondent to contest the election and his competence to present the Petition on the ground that, in line with section 182(b) of the Constitution, the 1st Respondent had been elected to the office of the Governor of Bayelsa State on two previous occasions and had occupied the seat for more than five years.
The Tribunal dismissed the 1st and 2nd Respondents’ Petition and upheld the return of the Appellant. However, the Tribunal failed to determine the objection raised by the Appellant concerning the qualification of the 1st Respondent to contest the election and his competence to file the Petition.
Dissatisfied, the 1st and 2nd Respondents appealed and the Appellant also cross-appealed against the part of the Tribunal’s Judgment which failed to determine the Appellant’s objection. The Court of Appeal dismissed both the appeal and cross-appeal.
The Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court contending that the issue of qualification of a candidate to contest an election is both a pre-election and post election matter which is cognisable by the Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. He relied on the case of Dangana v. Usman (supra). Continue reading Issue of candidate qualification is a pre-election matter as well as a post-election matter.