In anticipation of the Tribunal’s Ruling on the Election Petition of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Ize-Iyamu, concerning the declaration of Mr Godwin Obaseki as Governor of Edo State, there is a need for something of an eschatology independent of sub judice.
I do not deem myself in a position to declare with any certainty or authority that such and such would be the outcome of the tribunal, but I know I have some freedom to employ the analytical forecast of deductive logic.
Since I do not want to state categorically that this man, or this party will lose for this reason or for that reason, I will leave the reader with a timeline of the successes and failures of those parties and let predict in their hearts the expected ruling of the Election Tribunal sitting in Benin City.
The handwriting on the wall…
To start with, Edo’s Election Tribunal restrained the (PDP) and its candidate in the September 28 governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, from utilising any equipment to examine, scan, or howsoever interact with the ballot papers used in the election unless the integrity of such equipment had been demonstrated and cleared by the Election Petition Tribunal.
Secondly, the Judges rejected PDP and Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s application for extension of time to call more witnesses at the Election tribunal.
The petitioners had lined up witnesses in excess of 1000 and had only been able to call 99 of them. Many of these had put up dramatic appearances at court, with some declaring that they were the petitioners.
According to the Chairman of the three-member panel, Justice Ahmed Badamasi, the tribunal lacked the powers to grant such an extension and the application lacked merit. Consequently, the PDP and Ize-Iyamu had to close their case.
Again, the tribunal declined PDP and Ize-Iyamu’s bid to amend their petition. Shortly after, the tribunal ruled against another attempt by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to make amendments to a paragraph in the petition.
The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Ahmed Badamasi, held that the amendment could not be made by mere application. Since justice was not a one-way traffic, the application was described as fraudulent and an attempt to amend the main petition.
Ruling on the application, Justice Badamasi held that the correction could not be made by mere utterances, and that the petitioners has not stated any reasons justifying why they wanted to make the amendment.
The Tribunal ordered (PDP) and its candidate in the September 28 governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to comply with an earlier order that all parties to the case must be represented in the scanning of the ballot materials.
Counsels to the respondents had informed the tribunal that the PDP and its candidate were carrying out scanning of ballot papers without the representatives of APC and Obaseki.
He said continuous scanning of the ballot papers without respondents’ representatives was a breach of the Tribunal’s prior order that all parties must be present.
The Tribunal Chairman reiterated the prior order and emphasised that no party should be excluded.
While the petitioners appealed the Tribunal’s decision to cease ballot recount after the 14 days allocated to them were expired, the Appeal Court dismissed the bid to continue the ballot recount, adding that the petitioners’ appeal lacked merit.
Justice Mudasiru Nasiru of the Appeal Court held that paragraph 41 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act prescribed the time upon which petitioners and respondents were to prove and defend their case.
He ruled that any action done outside the prescribed time would be a nullity and that the tribunal was right to stop the counting of ballot papers after the 14 days had elapsed.
The Independent National Electoral Commission closed its defence without calling any witnesses saying that since the petitioners had not yet proved their case, the Burden of Proof remained with them and while it had called evidence, it deliberately did not call witnesses.
Counsels to Obaseki and APC urged the Tribunal, with ample citing of previous Supreme Court rulings, to dismiss the petition because there was no sanctity in the identity of one of the petitioners, and so there was no validity to the petition.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Ahmed Badamasi adjourned the sitting and ruling on the matter to a later date, which will be communicated to the parties involved.