Over the controversy in the State Governorship Election, the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, on Thursday, reserved judgment sine dine in the appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu over the decision of the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin to stop midway the recounting of the ballot papers used in some Local Governments (LGs) in the September 28, 2016 gubernatorial election.
The appellate court also reserved judgement in the cross appeal by the third respondent, the All Progressives Congress (APC), challenging the tribunal’s order to the petitioners for the recounting of the ballot papers used for the election in four of the councils.
Godwin Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu The appellants, in their petitions before the election tribunal, are challenging the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), of Mr. Godwin Obaseki of the APC, as winner of the election.
The appellants, in their application before the tribunal, had requested a recounting in the open court of ballot papers used in four councils namely Egor, Akoko-Edo, Estako West and Estako East, to prove their case of electoral irregularity.
However, the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led three-man tribunal ordered the stoppage of the recounting, when only three of the four councils had been counted.
The tribunal claimed that it made the order because the petitioners’ statutory 14-day period to prove their case had lapsed.
A report by the Assistant Secretary to the tribunal, Buhari Sani, showed that the recounting was only concluded in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Etsako West, Wards 1 and 2 in Akoko-Edo and Ward 1 of Egor councils. But the petitioners, who claimed that the stoppage of the recounting would be fatal to their case, approached the Court of Appeal, seeking for an order for the conclusion of the recounting.
INEC, Obaseki and APC opposed the appellants’ application and urged the court to dismissed it.
Meanwhile, APC filed a cross appeal and argued that the tribunal ought not to have granted the request for a recount in the first place.
Mallam Yusuf Ali, SAN, counsel for the petitioners in adopting his address to substantiate his case, argued that several decided Supreme Court cases supported his claim that the tribunal erred in stopping the recounting.
But Oyiyen Anumoye, INEC’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipeku SAN, representing Obaseki and Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, for APC, in their adopted addresses, opposed the appellants’ application and asked the Appeal Court to dismiss it.