There was mild tension in Edo State on Monday as the election tribunal reserved a date to deliver the judgement between Governor Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate in the September 28 governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu had filed a petition before the tribunal asking the tribunal to declare him winner of the elections based on alleged non-accreditation, over voting and non-compliance with the electoral act.
TheNewsGuru.com reports that INEC had declared Obaseki winner of the election with 319, 483 votes while Ize-Iyamu scored 253, 173 votes.
The three man panel headed by Justice Ahmed Badamasi said a date to deliver the judgement would be communicated to parties involved in the suit after the parties adopted their written addresses.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Onyechi Ikpeazu, told the tribunal to dismiss Ize-Iyamu’s petition as the petitioners failed to establish instances of over-voting by not tendering the voter register, ballot papers, the recounted ballot papers and the outcome of the recounting exercise as evidence.
Ikpeazu said the proof of over-voting must be done polling unit by polling unit, rather than covering only 29 out of all the polling units in the state.
The INEC counsel said the petitioners relied on invented figures not before the court and failed to provide competent evidence before the tribunal when they called witnesses who merely flipped through documents.
Lead counsel to Obaseki, Chief Wole Olanipekun, urged the tribunal to dismiss the Petition on grounds that the identity of the first petitioner and who was sponsored by the PDP were different.
His words, “They could not prove anything. They are holding onto any straw. They don’t know what they want. They didn’t tender anything. What is remaining is carcasses.”
“The straw of corrupt practices and non-compliance raised by the petitioners was weak as they could not prove anything. The first petitioner’s claim that he got majority votes and won the election was undoable”.
Olanipekun opined that the name of Pastor Osagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu used in the petition was different from Osagie Andrew Izs-Iyamu used for the election.
Counsel to the APC, Lateef Fagbemi, told the tribunal that the petitioners failed to substantiate their claim of electoral irregularities in their pleadings, evidence and address.
“I urged your lordship to hold that the petitioners have failed. There is no leg on which the deposition stand. They did not establish over-voting. If there was deduction in the recount of results declared by INEC, APC will still win by 58, 696 votes.
Lead counsel to the petitioners, Yusuf Alli, said the most logical thing for the tribunal to do was to dismiss the submission of the respondents as there was merit in all the complaints of the petitioners.
Ali stated that allegation of non-compliance with the electoral law was made against INEC but the electoral body failed to present any witness to answer to the allegation.
He however urged the court to uphold the petition and declared the petitioners as the winners of the election.
“I urge the court to hold that there is merit in all the complaints of the petitioners and as result of the merit the petitioners should be declared as the duly elected candidate of the election”, he stated.
“All said my lords, I pray you, sir, that there is merit in all the complaints of the petitioners. And that as a result of the merit of the complaints, the petitioners are entitled to be declared as the duly elected governor of Edo State from the election of September 28, 2016.”