From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in the September 28, 2016 Edo State governorship election, have appealed against Governor Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s victory at the poll.
Ize-Iyamu and the PDP filed a 41-ground notice of appeal at the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal against the judgment of the lower tribunal of April 14, 2017, which upheld the election of Obaseki. Similarly, the APC and Obaseki who are the 2nd and 3rd respondents in the appeal have also filed a four-ground notice of cross appeal against part of the judgment of the Justice Ahmed Badamasi three-man tribunal. Other respondent in the appeal is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The PDP and Ize-Iyamu are contending that the judgment was against the weight of evidence and urged the appellate court to allow the appeal. Other reliefs sought by the appellants included an order setting aside the decision of the lower tribunal and an order nullifying the return of the 2nd respondent and declaring the 1st appellant validly elected or returned having scored the highest number of lawful votes cast at the governorship election.
Besides, it is their contention that the learned judges of the lower tribunal misdirected themselves and truncated their right to fair hearing by the unequal treatment given to the cases of the parties by first finding fault, discrediting, disbelieving and dismissing the petition of the appellants before considering at all and reviewing the testimonies of the witnesses of the respondents, pointing out that this occasioned a miscarriage of justice against them.
The appellants are further contending, among other issues, that the lower tribunal erred in law and truncated their right to fair hearing wherein in consideration of their case, it failed to look at, consider, countenance and make any pronouncement on issue concerning, “whether the 2nd respondent was duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the Edo State governorship election held on September 28, 2016 and if not, whether the 1st petitioner is not entitled to be returned as the governor of Edo.”
In their notice of cross appeal, the APC and Governor Obaseki are challenging the part of the decision wherein the trial tribunal refused to grant the 3rd respondent/cross appellant’s applications dated November 30, 2016 and December 1, 2016 respectively and consequently, the lower tribunal’s refusal to strike out the offensive paragraphs and or the petition based on the two applications.
They are also contending that the lower tribunal erred in law when it held on page 21 of the judgment as follows: “After a careful scrutiny of the processes in this application, we are of the view that: the whole essence of the application is to defeat the intendment of the petition through technical process, it is premature at this stage to consider striking out paragraph 17 to 753 and we so hold.”
The cross appellants are further contending that the lower tribunal erred in law and breached their constitutional right to fair hearing when it failed to adequately consider all the issues raised and submitted before it in cross appellants’ application dated and filed on November 30, 2016 and thereby came to a wrong decision which has occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice.
They are therefore seeking, among other reliefs, order of the appellate court to allow the cross appeal, an order granting their motion on notice dated and filed on November 30, 2016 by striking out paragraph 16(1) of the petition touching on corrupt practices and all other paragraphs of the petition; in which allegations of corrupt practices are pleaded, including paragraphs 17 to 753.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the appeal.