The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, Edo State, on Friday dismissed an appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, challenging the discontinuation of the recounting of ballot papers used during the September 28 governorship election in four local government areas of the state.
The PDP and Ize-Iyamu have approached the court to challenge Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress as winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The governorship election petitions tribunal, led by Justice Ahmed Badamasi, had on February 10 ordered the stoppage of the recounting exercise for Akoko-Edo, Egor, Etsako West and Etsako East Local Government Areas, following the expiration of the 14 days allotted the PDP and Ize-Iyamu, who were the petitioners, to prove their case.
The petitioners had, through their counsel, Yusuf Alli (SAN), filed an appeal seeking an order to direct that the recounting of the used ballot papers for the identified LGAs be completed.
But in its verdict on Friday evening, the court held that the decision of the electoral tribunal was right as it was anchored on the provision of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
Justice Mudashiru Nasiru, who read the ruling, held that the time allotted to each of the parties was sacrosanct and, therefore, limited the petitioners’ time to prove 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 recounting of the ballot papers after the 14 days had elapsed.
He said, “Whatever any party should do to prove its case must be done within the time produced by the schedule. Once a party commences, the time prescribed will start to run.”
The appellate court, therefore, stated that the appeal was unmeritorious and thereby dismissed.
“The two issues for determination are resolved against the appellants. The appeal is unmeritorious and lacked merit. It is hereby dismissed,” It added.