July 14, 2023

Election: Tribunal refuses to grant LP application to bring BVAS to court

Labour party

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu on Friday refused to grant the application of Chijioke Edeoga, the LP governorship candidate’s request to bring Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used for election in court.

Edeoga is challenging the declaration of Gov. Peter Mbah as the winner of the March 18 Governorship Election in Enugu State.

The lead counsel to the petitioner, V. O Azinge, SAN, had during the hearing requested the tribunal to make another order summoning the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to bring the BVAS machines to the tribunal for inspection by the Labour Party.

She had reminded the court that the INEC, the first respondent had refused to effect the order of the court by allowing the petitioner to inspect the BVAS machines.

“The first respondent has disobeyed the court again by not bringing the BVAS to court today,” she told tribunal.

In response, the INEC lawyer, Mr Humphrey Okoli, told the court that the INEC had obeyed the order by granting access to the LP.

He said the attendance register being made to that effect was with him in the court to see that INEC had complied to the order.

“The issue of the matter is that the petitioner failed to comply with the rules of service as they served their subpoena on the wrong person,” Okoli said.

Reacting, Azinge objected to the position of the first respondent and prayed the court to mandate them to comply with the said order of the court issued on March 23.

The petitioner’s counsel who was not happy with the ruling told the court that July 15 was Saturday, adding that INEC did not open on Saturdays.

“My Lord, what I am asking for is extension of time within the week so that INEC could come for the inspection,” she pleaded.

The Chairman of the tribunal, M.K Akano, in her ruling told the petitioners ‘ counsel to do the needful, explaining that court had to sit and hear the application before she could grant another order for inspection of BVAS.

Akano maintained that the court was time-bound to deliver its judgement within 180 days and had other cases to entertain aside LP and the PDP matter.

“This tribunal is time-bound to deliver its judgment within a specific period of time, and will not be able to give any extension of time to any party because there are more cases to be heard,” she explained.

Meanwhile, some of the LP witnesses during cross examination told the tribunal that polling unit results were different from the results being collated.

Augustine Ezeme and Solomon Attah, both LP polling agents, said the results of the polling units which the agents in Udenu and Igboeze North council areas monitored were different from the results collated at the council areas.

The Chairman of the tribunal, however, adjourned the matter to July 15 for continuation of hearing