Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Kaduna State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has adjourned to Tuesday, May 27, for ruling on the motion for a recount of ballot papers brought before it by the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Isa Muhammad Ashiru.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ibrahim M. Bako, adjourned the sitting after a hot debate for or against the recount motion filed by the PDP’s governorship candidate.
Counsels to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Nasir el-Rufai and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Messer Aliyu Umar, Abdulhakeem Mustapha and Lawal Bawa, argued against the recounting motion at the resumption of the pre-trial on Saturday.
It would be recalled that the petitioners, Ashiru and PDP, on Tuesday, May 14, filed a motion urging the tribunal to order for the recount of the entire ballot in the March 9 governorship poll in the state.
Justice Bako had adjourned to Saturday, May 25, 2019, to allow the three respondents in the PDP petition, governor-elect, El-Rufai, APC and INEC to file their responses.
Also, at the resumed hearing in the motion which is part of the pre-hearing sittings, the PDP applied to amend its earlier application for the recount of the entire ballot to 12 local government areas mostly in the central and northern parts of the state.
The petitioners applied for the recount in Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi, Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Zaria, Sabon Gari, Makarfi, Kudan, Kubau, Soba and Ikara local government areas mostly won by the APC.
Mr. Emmanuel Ukala, told newsmen after the adjournment that: “What we have done this morning is to move the motion for the ballot recount, which is to recount the ballot papers in certain local government areas where we are saying that votes were simply allocated.
“We are saying that in order to meet the justice of the case, it is proper to have that recount. We are surprise that INEC who conducted the election and respondents who said they had won the election, would shy away from wanting that recount to be done.
“The application we have made in the court had been made in the past, they even cited the case of Oshiomhole and INEC where recounting was done and it has been done in other cases.
“So it is something that we know in our jurisprudence. We just want a recount and whatever the result turns out to be we will be happy and abide by it.
“We also filed motions to strike out certain paragraphs of their response, because once those paragraphs are struck out, they will definitely have nothing to respond too,“ Ukala said.
However, counsel to INEC, Mr Aliyu Umar, said there was a motion asking for a recount by the petitioner, but was opposed to by the respondents.
“And a ruling is going to be delivered on Tuesday next week on whether there is going to be a recount of those ballot papers.
“We opposed the recount because, in all legal contest especially election matters, you are supposed to state the fact upon which you are challenging the election.
“There are normally three grounds to challenge the outcome of an election, which are non-compliance, corrupt practices or the person declared was not elected by majority of lawful votes. They now lump up these three processes together,” Umar said.
Mr. Abdulhakeem Mustapha, counsel to El-Rufai also told newsmen that: “We are also opposed to that application because it is not in consonance with the extant provisions of the relevant electoral laws.
“What they are trying to do is that through the back door, move the court to grant an application that will decide the matter at the preliminary stage.
“We opposed to it and we marshalled our point that this is not the right time for that type of application,” Mustapha said.