The All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State have disagreed over the modalities for the inspection of electoral materials used by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of the September 28 governorship election.
This is just as the commencement of the inspection of the materials by the PDP was stalled on Thursday, following a suit filed by the APC challenging the scanning of ballot papers by the opposition party.
The election petitions tribunal, led by Justice A. T. Badamasi, had granted a motion ex parte to the two parties to enable them inspect the materials used for the poll.
It was, however, learnt that no sooner had the exercise begun at the INEC state headquarters in Benin than it was stalled by the legal action taken by the APC.
Paragraph 753 of the suit filed by the APC reads in part: “Your petitioners will before or at the trial of this petition apply and pray this Honourable Tribunal for an order or direction that the ballot papers used and votes cast in each or some of the polling units for the governorship election be produced in court by the 1st Respondent (INEC) and recounted in open court and the figures obtained and admitted in evidence.”
Counsel to the PDP, Prof. Edoba Omoregie, had told journalists that though the suit filed by the APC had not been heard by the court, it would not alter the process which both parties had earlier agreed upon.
But state Chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua, explained that though the ruling party did not oppose the inspection of the materials at the tribunal, the scanning of the ballot papers was not part of the motion filed by the PDP at the tribunal.
Ojezua, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said, “They (PDP) have been inspecting. But when they say that they want to go and scan ballot papers and there was nothing in their petition to suggest, of course, we will object.
“When you want to inspect, it is one thing. When you say you want to scan, your intention must be to further your case. But I do not see how that will help their case because they have been talking about over-voting.”
He also said that the motion filed by the PDP stated that the inspection should be done at the tribunal.
He added, “What they said they wanted in their petition was that the ballot papers should be brought to the tribunal. So, there is nothing to be done at INEC; we do not want them to tamper with those materials.”