The Ekiti Gubernatorial Election Tribunal sitting in Abuja has dismissed an application by the Peoples Democratic Party PDP for the comprehensive recount of ballot papers used in the July 14 poll. Stating that the application lacked merit.
Therefore, PDP and its candidate, Kolapo Olusola are challenging the result of the election in court. The respondents in the matter are All Progressives Congress APC, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, and Fayemi Kayode, the announced winner of the election.
Ruling on the application, the Chairman of the 3-member tribunal, Justice Belgore Bolaji, stated that the application lacked merit. Bolaji noted that Ekiti had one hundred and seventy-seven 177 wards with 2,197 polling units in the sixteen 16l local government areas. Hence, the petitioners only highlighted 325 polling units in their petition before the tribunal. The PDP chairman said its candidate did not complain about all the 2,197 polling units in the state.
‘To pray for a comprehensive recount in all wards and polling units across the state is to make firm nonsense of the petitioners’ pleading’ Bolaji said. Pleadings are just written statements of parties in a procedure wherein they clearly state the materials, including documents, they will depend on in the proceeding.
The tribunal could only admit where it was supported by pleading, adding that what the petitioners demanded could not be situated in their pleading before the tribunal. Furthermore, the chairman said that the evidence so generated from the recount would be of no use in the proceeding. He added that what the petitioners have in mind to do was to spring a surprise on the respondents which they would not be able to respond to as the time for pleading had closed.
He stated that the tribunal was in agreement with the submission of the counsel for Chief Akin Olujimi SAN, Fayemi that the petitioners were looking for evidence under the guise of recounting the ballot. The relief demands the recount be done in the presence of two representatives of the parties in the matter, security operatives and secretary of the tribunal, the tribunal held involving its own secretary definitely would require the secretary providing evidence for the petitioners. ‘The secretary of the tribunal can’t be a party follow what the application wanted,’ Justice Bolaji stated.
On that note, ‘we hereby rule that the application lacked merit,’ he declared.
In a similar development, the tribunal turned down INEC’s application for not using the July 14 governorship election smart card reader machines. The Ruling on the application argued by Dr Ikpeazu Onyechi SAN on-behalf of INEC. Bolaji said that excluding the card readers from inspection would be tantamount to setting aside the tribunal’s initial order granted on July 26.
Consequently, the tribunal made an order that the inspection of the card readers must be completed by the end of each party’s case, which would start on October 17. The chairman made it known that the consequential order was not setting aside the expatriate order granted on July 26. The tribunal, therefore, adjourned the commencement of hearing in the petition until October 17.