Edo poll: Jubilation in Benin as Appeal court validates Obaseki’s election

Edo Gov. Godwin Obaseki

The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, Edo State, on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, challenging the emergence of Godwin Obaseki as ‎winner of the September 28, 2016, governorship poll.

The five-man panel, led by Justice M. B. Dongban Mensem, also dismissed a cross appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress against the PDP.

The Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led tribunal had on April 14 dismissed the petition of Ize-Iyamu and the PDP for lack of merit and upheld the declaration of ‎Obaseki as Governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

But the PDP and its candidate had filed a 41-ground appeal against the tribunal’s judgment while Obaseki filed a cross appeal on four grounds.

However, the appellate court, in a unanimous judgement read by Justice M. O. Bolaji-Yusuf, said that the decision of the tribunal was unassailable.

It explained that the tribunal did a “thorough” consideration of the issues raised by the appellants.

The court, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.

It said, “We have considered all the issues and, at the end, we found that the conclusion of the tribunal, as has been shown, is unassailable.

“The tribunal carried out a painstaking, detailed and thorough consideration ‎of all aspects of the appellants’ case; it deserves commendation.

“Having resolved the issues identified against the appellants, we find this unmeritorous. It is, hereby, dismissed. Each party shall bear his or her own cost.”

In his reaction, Ize-Iyamu said that while there were sufficient grounds of appeal to show that some of the decisions of the tribunal could not stand, the party would take a decision after assessing the appeal judgement.

He said, “Until one is actually able to lay hands on the judgement and read, that when one can make a fair comment. All we know is that our appeal and the cross appeal were dismissed. But the reasons are not known.

“By the time we lay hands on it, we will meet with our lawyers and our party leaders and take a decision. There were fundamental issues we raised against the tribunal judgement.

“There are things it said that we believe cannot stand the test of time. We are not bound to depend only on corrupt practices to prove our point. Non-compliance is a ground in the Electoral Act and we depended on it.”

The PDP candidate, however, did not rule out the possibility of heading for the Supreme Court.

He noted, “Well, that is the apex court. I also believe that even if we had won, they (APC and Obaseki) would have gone there.

“Do not forget that they had already file a matter before the Supreme Court in respect of the Court of Appeal’s decision on recounting (of used ballot papers). So, the case is actually already before the Supreme Court.‎”

But Obaseki described the ruling as God’s affirmation of his victory at the poll. Punch

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