The Edo Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Benin, on Thursday ordered the recounting of used ballot papers for the Edo September 28 governorship election in open court.
The order by the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led three-member tribunal, followed an application by the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, its candidate in the governorship election for recounting of the papers in court.
The petitioners are challenging the declaration by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) of Mr Godwin Obaseki of APC as winner of the election.
The petitioners had named INEC, Obaseki and the APC as first, second and third respondents respectively in the petition.
INEC had declared Obaseki winner of the Edo governorship election after he polled 319,483 votes to defeat Ize-Iyamu, his closest rival, who scored 250,000 votes
At the resumed hearing, Mr Ahmed Salman, INEC administrative officer, on subpoena, produced bags of “Ghana must go’ in court containing used ballot papers for Egor, Akoko-Edo, Etsako-East and Estako-West, respectively.
The petitioners’ counsel, Mr Yusuf Ali, SAN, then made an oral application for the recounting of the papers in court before their admissibility.
But Mr Onyinye Anunonye, Mr Ken Mozia and Mr Rotimi Ogunesho, all SANs, and counsel to IINEC, Obaseki and APC, respectively opposed their admissibility in court, and argued that the mode of its presentation ran foul of the Electoral Act.
They urged the tribunal not to allow recounting of the ballot papers and their admissibility in court as being prayed by the petitioners.
But Mr Yusuf Ali, Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), and counsel to the petitioners, urged the tribunal to discountenance the respondents’ applications.
Ali, who described the respondents as interlopers and busy bodies, argued that “we have pleaded this in our petition,’’ and urged the tribunal to dismiss their applications for objection as irrelevant and tendentious.
Delivering ruling, the tribunal held that the petitioners had sufficiently complied with the relevant sections of the Electoral Act as contained in their pleadings of their petition.
Badamasi held that “it is important to note that the petitioners so stated this fact in their pleadings which was also contained in their motion on notice.
“It will therefore tantamount to shutting them out if the application is refused.
“It is in our considered opinion that this application for recounting has merit and is therefore granted while dismissing the application for objection of the respondents,’’ he said.
A NAN correspondent covering the proceedings, reports that counting is in progress as at the time of filing this report.