The Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Benin, on Friday, upheld the election of Governor Godwin Obaseki, declaring that the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to be declared winner of the election lacked merit.
Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Ahmed Badamasi, who spent two hours to read out the judgement, noted that “the petitioner can only succeed on the strength of his case and not on the absence or weakness of the defence.”
He said the evidence led by the petitioners did not establish that there was substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in the 2,627 polling units they contested as the petitioners did not call on witnesses in majority of the polling units in the state.
He pointed out that the petitioners in a bid to prove their case, called on witnesses who could not give evidence and that the petitioners did not call on any witness to prove a case of misapplication of votes.
He stated that the PDP and Ize-Iyamu could not put forward substantial reasons for the latter to be declared winner of the election or make the tribunal nullify the result of the election.
While the tribunal declared that accreditation constituted the foundation for a credible election, it asserted that allegation of poor or uncompleted accreditation by the petitioners could not be established.
Justice Badamasi said the reliance of the petitioners on the ticking of the name of a prospective voter on the left side of the voters’ register to mark complete accreditation was only an administrative guideline for election officials.
Justice Badamasi said, “On the whole, we hold that the petitioners have not by credible evidence proved their case and they have failed to show that they are entitled to their reliefs.
“Accordingly, the petition is, therefore, dismissed. The election of the second respondent, Godwin Obaseki, is hereby upheld.”
Earlier in the first issue that was determined, the tribunal threw out the argument of the 2nd respondent that Osagie Ize-Iyamu, whose name was recorded as the candidate of the PDP in the INEC register, was not the same person as Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Andrew, whose name was listed as first petitioner in the case.
The tribunal rule that there was nothing to prove that there was a case of clash of identity in the 2nd respondent’s argument and that the first petitioner was able to prove that “pastor” was his appellation and that “Andrew” was his baptismal name.