By GBENGA ARIYIBI
ADO-EKITI â€” The Election Petition TribunalÂ sitting in Ado EkitiÂ yesterdayÂ refused the plea of the Action Congress(AC)Â seeking to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to move all the electoral materials used for the April 25 and May 5 re-run governorship election to theÂ tribunalâ€™s custody.
Fayemi is challenging the election of Engr SegunÂ Oni as the governorÂ in the 6 wards of IfakiÂ 1 and 2, Orin/Ora Ward,UsiÂ ward and Ipoti wards1 and 2 in both Ido /Osi and Ijero Local Government areasÂ respectively
The lead counsel to the AC gubernatorial candidate in the election,Mallam Yusuff AlliÂ had in a motionÂ dated July 17 and filed on July 22, filed anÂ Â applicationÂ asking the tribunal to order for the movement of the electoral materials to the custody of the tribunal.
The legal practitionerÂ Â hinged his application by virtue of the 1st schedule of the Electoral Act and Section 36 of the 1999 constitution, which according to himÂ permitted the Tribunal to give such order.
Alli in his application hasÂ Â soughtÂ the leave of the Court to move forms EC8A, EC8B, EC25,EC46, Votersâ€™ Registers and Ballot Papers, both used and unused, purportedly used in the conduct of the rerun election in Ijero and Ido-Osi Local Government areas.
The legal practitionerÂ has argued that theÂ Â documents could be mutilated, doctored or tampered with , if it remained in the custody of the INEC, adding that keeping in the custody of the Tribunal would guarantee its safety.
He supported the application with 5_paragraph affidavit and a written address.
However,Â Â both counsels to the 1st Respondent, the PDP , INEC, Electoral Officers, and the Police,Â Adebayo Adenipekun(SAN), Joe Gadzama(SAN), Rafiu Lawal_Rabana(SAN),Tayo Oyetibo(SAN) and Milton Ohwovoriole (SAN) respectively did not depose to any counter affidavit or written address in opposition to the application.
TheyÂ Â however submittedÂ that shifting the materials to the custody of the Tribunal at this stage could be dangerous, as the Exhibit room, they said could be burgled and the materials tampered with,Â Â they posited that they could only allow to the movement of the materials , ifÂ theyÂ would be marked as Exhibits.
In his ruling the chairman of theÂ tribunal, Justice Hama Barka , said it would be premature to grant the application at this stage and that Section 43 of the Electoral Act 2006 gave the Chief Electoral Officer to take custody of the materials, but could only be released upon request by a competent Court or Tribunal.
HisÂ wordsâ€œIf we refuse this application at this stage, it will not be prejudice, so in exercising our discretion in this application judiciously and judicially, we came to conclusion that we have to exercise restraint at this stage, so the prayer is hereby refused.â€