The opposition party in Edo State, People’s Democratic Party and its candidate at the September 28, 2016 Edo gubernatorial election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu have lost their bid at the Court of Appeal for a continuation of the halted ballot recount. The Court, sitting in Benin City, threw out the appeal, which included a request by the petitioners that the time spent recounting the ballots should be restored so that they could call more witnesses.
According to Daily Post, the petitioners’ counsel, Mallam Yusuf Alli (SAN) had filed for a ballot recount in four Local Government Areas, namely Egor, Akoko-Edo, Estako West and Estako East to prove their case of electoral irregularity. They contended that the tribunal erred when it stopped the recounting of the ballot papers once the 14 days given to the petitioners to present their case have elapsed.
Delivering unanimous judgment on the appeal, Justice Mudasiru Nasiru, who read the lead judgment, said he decided to take great caution not to go out of bounds since the tribunal was yet to deliver judgment on the main petition. Justice Nasiru held that paragraph 41 of 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. In his words:
“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 to it will start to run”. “The two issues for determination are resolved against the appellants. The appeal is unmeritorious and lacked merit. It is hereby dismissed.
Was this a sound judgement?