By Kalshingi H Jedidah
The Gombe state governorship election tribunal has been called upon to prevail on the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to allow the petitioners to carry out a forensic inspection of election documents as directed earlier by the tribunal.
Counsel to the Petitioners, Ayoola Ajayi made the plea while addressing the tribunal at Wednesday’s sitting in Gombe, saying, inspecting the election materials has become a difficult task, as a result of lack of cooperation from INEC.
The Gombe state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal headed by Justice Mathew Adewara having ordered for a forensic examination of ballot papers used for the April 11 governorship election, was surprised to hear that carrying out the order was becoming more and more difficult.
Ajayi told journalist in an interview shortly after the court sitting that, the INEC was delaying the process, despite paying the Commission almost 11 million naira as fee to certify the documents for the exercise.
“We have made a payment of nearly eleven million naira, to inspect documents and carry out forensic examination. Earlier, INEC gave us some of the documents but not all. As I speak to you, we don’t have the voters register, which is very important in an election matter. Our men who are supposed to do the forensic examination were initially allowed to start work on Monday the 6th day of July 2015, before we understand there was a directive and the work had to stop. On Tuesday our lawyers, party agents and witnesses were there but they were not allowed to do the inspection. All this is practically an attempt to place a clog in the wheel of justice,” Ajayi narrated.
He called on the INEC to act as an independent arbiter and allow the work of the tribunal to progress as the tribunal was time-bound, “INEC is an arbiter, the Commission is independent, let it live to its name. They are an umpire they should hold the balance between the parties. Even the first and second respondents are not giving problems, its INEC and we are very disturbed about this,” he lamented.
Reacting to the allegation, Lead Counsel to INEC Hassan Leman said INEC as an independent institution has been complying with all directives of the tribunal and would continue to do so.
He said, ” 11 out of the 13 volumes of papers the Petitioners filed before the tribunal, were given by INEC so I am surprised they are now complaining that INEC is not assisting them or is not complying with the orders,” he added. Stating that, INEC would ensure that the latest order of the tribunal was carried out to the later.
The All Progressive Congress APC, African Democratic Congress ADC, and their respective gubernatorial candidates have challenged outcome of the April 11 Gombe state governorship election conducted by the INEC which declared Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP as a winner.