17 March 2017

Nigeria: Edo Governorship - Appeal Court Adjourns Indefinitely

Benin — The appeal court sitting in Benin, yesterday reserved judgment sine dine in the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, its candidate in the September 28 governorship election.

The PDP and Ize-Iyamu had filed an appeal over the election petition tribunal's stoppage of the recounting of ballot papers used in the governorship election in the on-going trial.

They are also challenging the declaration of Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

However, the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led tribunal ordered the stoppage of the recounting process after three of the four local government areas (LGAs) had been counted.

The tribunal claimed that it made the order because the petitioners' statutory 14-day period to prove their case had lapsed.

The report, signed 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 Local Government Area, Wards 1 and 2 in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area and Ward 1 of Egor Local Government Area.

But the petitioners approached the Court of Appeal, seeking an order for the conclusion of the recounting, saying the stoppage would be fatal to their case.

But INEC, Obaseki and APC opposed the application and urged the court to dismiss it.

Meanwhile, the APC has filed a cross appeal to the appellants' application and argued that the tribunal ought not to have granted the request for a recount ab initio.

Mr Yusuf Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in adopting his address to substantiate his case, said "We are not asking for an extension of time, but merely asking that the result of an already commenced process be completed. Stopping the process amounted to the tribunal rendering its own order futile.

But Oyiyin Anumoye, INEC counsel; Mr Wole Olanipeku, SAN, representing Obaseki; and Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, for APC, in their adopted addresses, asked the appeal court to dismiss it.

They argued that the appellants knew they had 14 days to prove their case but decided to wait till the last minute to ask for a recount.

The chairman of the appeal court, Justice Olukayode Bada, reserved judgment in both cases indefinitely.

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