The Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, should recount the ballot papers of four local governments in Edo State, according to an order by the Governorship Election Tribunal yesterday.
The tribunal granted an oral application made by the Peoples Democratic Candidate in the September 26 governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, that ballot papers used by accredited voters be recounted.
The affected local governments are Egor, Akoko-Edo, Etsako-East and Etsako-West. Counsel to Ize-Iyamu, Mallam Yusuf Ali, SAN, made the request.
Ize-Iyamu is contesting the declaration of MR Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the election.
Counsels to INEC, APC and Obaseki opposed the tribunal ruling.
Onyiye Anumonye for INEC urged the tribunal to reject Ize-Iyamu’s application because he did not file a motion on notice, arguing that the tribunal was acting outside the ambit od the law.
Mr Ken Mozia, SAN, for Obaseki said the tribunal lacked the powers to accept oral application.
APC’s Rotimi Oguneso stated that the petitioner’s position was unknown in law and to ask for a recount would amount to mental torture for the respondents.
But Justice Ahmed Badamasi, Chairman of the tribunal, said though the application was made orally, it did not make it incompetent.
He observed that the petitioner had made it abundantly clear in his written application that he would apply for a recount, which the first respondent did not oppose.
This means, “ they are therefore deemed to have consented to the recounting of the ballot papers”
He observed that the second respondent had agreed that they were not opposed to a recount provided the ballot papers remained intact.
Concluding, he said: “ What is important is that the second respondent has accepted the recount of the ballot papaers. The third respondent, in paragraph 499, opposed the recount on the grounds that the counting of the votes only takes place at the polling units and not in the court
“The position of the third respondent is not tenable in law because in the case of Ekeh vs Enang and two others, the Court of Appeal allowed the recounting of the ballot papers on the orders of the tribunal”, he said.