The Edo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal will on Friday deliver judgment in a petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
It was learnt that the three-man panel led by Justice Ahmed Badamasi on Wednesday informed the parties in the case of its readiness to deliver judgment before the expiration of the statutory180 days on April 16.
The PDP and Ize-Iyamu are challenging the declaration of Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress as winner of the September 28 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The petitioners also listed Obaseki, the APC and INEC as the first, second and third respondents in the suit, which the tribunal heard before it reserved judgment after the parties adopted their final address on April 3.
Lead counsel for the petitioners, Yusuf Alli (SAN), told the tribunal that the petition was largely documentary as it was hinged on documentary evidence of key materials used in the conduct of the election, especially the voter register and the result sheets.
Alli had called several witnesses to testify and provided as exhibit the voter register of the 16 local government areas of the state.
The petitioners had also tendered copies of Form EC8As, EC8Bs and EC8Cs, being the results sheets of all the polling units, wards and local government areas of the state.
In his final address, counsel for the first respondent, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition, arguing that the petitioners failed to establish an instance of over-voting by not tendering the voter register, ballot papers, the recounted ballot papers and the outcome of the recounting exercise as evidence.
Ikpeazu submitted that the prove of over-voting must be done polling unit by polling, rather than covering only 29 out of the over polling units in the state.
On his part, lead counsel for Obaseki, Chief Wole Olanipekun, aligned with the call of the first respondent, arguing that there was no certainty about the identity of the first petitioner and who was sponsored by the PDP.
Olanipekun pointed out that the recounting of the used ballot papers did not show that the second respondent did not have the majority votes, even as he was not aware of any exhibit to show the outcome of the recounting exercise.
According to him, the straw of corrupt practices and non-compliance raised by the petitioners was weak as they could not prove anything, adding that the first petitioner’s claim that he got majority votes and won the election was “undoable”.
Olanipekun’s submission was supported by counsel for the APC, Lateef Fagbemi, who had told the tribunal that the petitioners failed to substantiate their claim of electoral irregularities in their pleadings, evidence and address.
But Alli, who identified 10 points to strengthen the petitioners’ case, said the allegation of non-compliance with the electoral law was made against INEC which, however, failed to present any witness to answer to the allegation.
According to him, both the petitioners and the second respondent claimed to be dissatisfied with the outcome of the election in certain areas.
He therefore urged the tribunal to uphold the petition.