The Kaduna State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election, Isah Ashiru, on Tuesday, filed an application before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, seeking for the recount of the votes cast during the March 9 poll.
By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The incumbent Governor Nasir el-Rufai of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), having polled 1,045,427 to Ashiru’s 814,168 votes.
Ashiru is challenging el-Rufai’s victory at the tribunal on the grounds that the election was characterised by irregularities and over voting.
Elisha Kurah (SAN), the lead counsel for Ashiru, filed the application at the commencement of a pre-trail at the tribunal headed by Justice I. M. Bako.
The tribunal chairman however adjourned the matter to May 25, 2019, to allow INEC and two other respondents in the petition time to respond to the the application.
In an interview with journalists shortly after the adjournment, Kurah said it was imperative that the tribunal would order INEC for a recount of the votes cast during the election.
”It is very crucial as we are alleging which is supported by the evidence we have that most of the results declared were phantom votes.
”They were backed up by votes in the ballot boxes. So we want a complete recount of the votes cast in the governorship election.
”We are expecting that the results would show that the PDP actually won the election, but votes were just inflated randomly just to make the APC have the semblance of winning,” Kurah said.
However, in his reaction Abdulhakeem Mustapha, the counsel to el-Rufai, said he will opposed the application.
He said the PDP and its candidate have four highly contentious applications and “we intend to oppose the applications on their merit and the tribunal has given us a new date for us to come and argue the applications”.
He added that the matter had been adjourned for hearing of all the pending applications.
”We have a preliminary objection that the petition is not competent. They (PDP and Ashiru) have an application that they want the tribunal to direct that the ballots be re-counted one after the other in open court, and we intend to oppose those applications,” he said.
According to him, “The electoral Act is in our favour, the Kaduna people have spoken, they picked Mallam el-Rufai and nothing is going to change that.
”We are here to defend the mandate the people have given to the governor. We intend to convince the tribunal that the petition lack merit and it should be dismissed.”