Daily Champion (Lagos)

7 August 2007

Nigeria: Ekiti - AC Gets Order to Continue Verification of Electoral Materials

Ado Ekiti — Despite yesterday came the way of the Action Congress (AC) in Ekiti State as the election petitions tribunal sitting in Ado Ekiti granted it an order empowering it to continue with the verification of the electoral materials at the possession of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) used in the last general elections

The prayer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking for representation at the inspection was also granted but the tribunal pointed out that only two counsel could represent the party at the inspection in a bid to prevent any conflict

The tribunal before embarking on a two weeks recess had granted the AC the constitutional backing to continue with the inspection of the INEC materials without requesting from the tribunal the assistance of forensic experts in the verification

But later, the AC had filed another application requesting a legal backing from the tribunal to introduce those experts to ascertain the authenticity of the INEC materials used for the April poll, which PDP and INEC objected to.

The counsel to the INEC, Roland Otaru (SAN) in another application had objected to the applications filed by AC seeking the introduction of experts to fortify the inspection's team saying it was an abuse of court process and ploy to cause conflict and confusion.

The counsels also in their application sought interlocutory injunction restraining the AC from further inspection of the INEC material pending the determination of the suit on whether the petitioner could inspect the materials with help of experts

Otaru Specifically pointed out that the order earlier granted the AC to inspect the materials did not empower it to investigate those materials with the help of expert and that there was no provision for investigation of INEC materials in the electoral acts

Besides, the PDP counsel prayed the Tribunal to grant the interlocutory injunction restraining the petitioner to bring in experts and which would deprive the AC of the right to continue with the inspection pending the time the new application filed by it was determined.

But the leading counsel to the AC, Malam Yusuf Alli (SAN) cited the case of Adeniyi vs. Akinyede, Awopetu vs.Akinwale and Adetunbi vs Arise to justify that the AC could continue with the inspection not minding the new application being filed by it saying the honourable tribunal had earlier granted order of inspection in those cases without restraining them

Alli maintained that stuffing of ballot boxes and the case of multiple thumb printing reported in the elections could be ascertained with the help of experts pointing out that it would aid the tribunal in the quick and accurate dispensation of justice in the matter.

In his ruling, Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Usman Bukar Bwala granted the order empowering the AC to continue with the inspection and differed ruling on whether forensic experts be allowed to participate till tomorrow (Wednesday)

The prayer of the PDP seeking for representation at the inspection was also granted but pointed out that only two counsels could represent the PDP at the inspection in a bid to prevent any conflict

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