Again, Edo INEC loses bid to bring in more bags of ballot papers

No Comments » December 11th, 2007 posted by // Categories: Electoral Reform Project



 

THE NATION

 

Again, Edo INEC loses bid to bring in more bags of ballot papers.    11/12/2007
     

From Peter Fowoyo,

Benin

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again lost its bid to bring in another bag of ballot papers used in the April 14 governorship election in Edo State.

The State Election Tribunal said INEC could not tender the bag in evidence because an official of the commission, Mr Kayode Olawale, said there was only one bag of ballot papers for Ovia North East Local Government and “it has been tendered and admitted in evidence”.

“The evidence of petitioner witness (PW 47) left no one in doubt that there was only one bag of ballot papers used in Ovia North East local government during the April 14 governorship election in Edo State.

“He was not a participant at the forensic analysis and cannot determine whether they were scanned or not, he cannot bring in another bag of ballot papers for Ovia North East. Therefore, we shall be upholding the objection of Mr. Adeniyi Akintola (SAN). The bag of ballot papers shall be marked tendered but rejected.”

It was at the resumed hearing of the petition of the Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole against Governor Oserheimen Osunbor’s election.

A similar request was sought for Esan Central Local Government by INEC’s lawyer, Mr. Rowland Otaru, last weekend but the tribunal turned it down.

When the matter came up yesterday, Otaru sought the tribunal’s permission to tender another bag of scanned ballot papers used during the governorship elections in Ovia North East local government, which, he said, was discovered by Olawale on November 25, and had been in custody of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), who mandated him to bring same to the tribunal.

Miffed by Otaru’s application to tender these ballot papers, Oshiomhole’s lawyer, Akintola objected to the tendering of the ballot papers.

“Milord, we shall be objecting to the tendering of the ballot papers for Ovia North East local government. The ballot papers for Ovia North East has already been addmitted as exhibit 95 on November 22. On that day, the witness said they have one bag for Ovia North East Local Government and they do not have any bag beyond this and your Lordship marked it as exhibit 95. That was what he said, it was his own evidence on that day.

“He cannot come back now and bring something from the blues, 18 days interval they are bringing something else. I want to adopt my submission of last Friday, I urge your Lordship to follow the earlier ruling of December 7, and reject in totality the admission of this dubious ballot papers.

“No additional ballot papers were pleaded anywhere and none of the respondents joined issues with additional ballot papers. Besides, the addmission is not relevant to the evidence they have earlier given,” Akintola said.

Osunbor’s counsel, Mr Ighodalo Imadugbelo (SAN) did not oppose the application as he told the tribunal to admit the ballot papers because they are relevant to the proceedings and issues joined by the parties.

He said: “These ballot papers are not strange to the parties because there is evidence that they have been scanned and this distinguished it from that in Esan Central Local Government Area last Friday. They are not coming from the blues. “The purpose of cross-examination is to contradict the evidence of a witness in a case or neutralise it, particularly as to the existence of further ballot papers for Ovia North East Local Government. Addmisibility and the way to be attached are two different issues and should be determine by your Lordship.

“The failure of INEC to bring already scanned ballot papers to the court should not be visited on the 3rd and 4th respondents since we have no control over them.”

However, Otaru told the court to admit the ballot papers on the grounds that they were relevant to the proceedings and same were pleaded by the petitioners.

He said all ballot papers used in the conduct of the governorship elections on April 14 were listed in the documents to be tendered.

Otaru urged the tribunal to invoke Section 124 of the Evidence Act since the documents emanated from the source-INEC being the legitimate custodian.

Also yesterday, Olawale gave the break down of stamped ballot papers as directed by the tribunal as follows:

Action Congress (AC)- stamped ballot papers at the back only 26,773, signed ballot papers at the back only 7, 608, unstamped and unsigned ballot papers 14,557, stamped and signed in front only1,800, stamped in front only 796;

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)– stamped ballot papers at the back only 6,534, signed ballot papers at the back only 2,520, unstamped and unsigned ballot papers 2,747, stamped and signed in front only 1,560, stamped in front only 249.

He also gave the total number of the 12 local government areas stamped and signed ballot papers at the back as 517.

He said both the unstamped and unsigned ballot papers were from the booklet of the ballot papers sent by INEC to the 12 local government areas.

Olawale put the total number of voided ballot papers at 1,050. Those with signature only at the back 325, unstamped and unsigned voided ballot papers 639, stamped and signed ballot papers in front, 49 and those voided ballot papers stamped in front without signature, 59.

He told the tribunal that the voided ballot papers were not for AC and PDP but also include other parties.

Meanwhile, Justice Orilonishe has adjourned further hearing and continuation of cross-examination of PW47 till December 13.

 

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