Edo State election petition tribunal has ordered the re-count of ballot papers used for the April 14, governorship election in 12 local government areas of the state.
The tribunal Chairman, Justice Orilonishe Olabanji gave the order yesterday while ruling on an application made by counsel to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Action Congress (AC), Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN).
The 12 local governments that would have their votes re-counted are Uhunmwonde, Esan West, Etsako West, Ovia South West, Owan East, Igueben and Esan Central. Others are Ovia North East, Esan North East, Orhionmwon, Esan South East and Owan West.
The application for the recount which was objected to by INEC and Prof. Oserheimen’s counsel, Mr. Roland Otaru and Dr. Alex Izinyon, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), was as a result of the failure of INEC’s Head of Operations, Mr. Kayode Olawale to give the figure of ballot papers that INEC brought to the tribunal in several Ghana must go sacks.
Ruling on the application, the tribunal chairman fixed Saturday and Sunday for the re-count exercise to be carried out by Mr. Olawale, who is currently testifying for INEC. He would be assisted by the assistant secretary to the tribunal.
Justice Orilonishe while overruling the objections from counsel to the respondents, said since the witness had already told the tribunal that he did not know the numbers of the ballot papers as exhibits, the tribunal has the power to order the re-count of the ballot papers as tendered.
The tribunal ordered that the re-count must be done local government by local government, even as it also directed secretary to the tribunal to provide adequate security for the exercise which the tribunal ruled, counsel or their representatives were free to witness.
The INEC witness could only tender rejected, voided and cancelled ballot papers used for the election in only four out of 18 local government areas in the state, saying “these are the ones we have in our records.”
A mild drama played out at the tribunal yesterday, as the Chairman, Justice Orilonishe ordered INEC Resident Electoral Officer for Edo, Mr. Josiah Uwazuoronye and Mr. Ferdinand Orbih to vacate the front seat meant for Senior Advocates of Nigeria, following an observation by Chief Akintola that the REC was interjecting while he (Akintola) was leading the witness in evidence.
Justice Orilonishe said it was unprofessional for counsel who were not involved in a matter to make contributions or interfere with the proceedings of the tribunal.
– The Sun