John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in the 2019 general election, Isah Ashiru, yesterday filed an application before the the state governorship Election Petition Tribunal, seeking the recount of the votes cast during the March 9 poll.
The incumbent state 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 as against 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.
The lead counsel to Ashiru, Elisha Kurah (SAN), 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 application.
In an interview with journalists shortly after the adjournment, Kurah said it was imperative that the tribunal order INEC for the recount of the votes cast during the election.
According to him, “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 back 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 the election.”
However, in his reaction, counsel to El-Rufai, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, said he would oppose 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 to come and argue the applications.”
He added that the matter had been adjourned for hearing of all the pending applications.
The counsel said: “We have a preliminary objection that the petition is not competent. They (PDP and Ashiru) have an application that they want the tribunal to order that the ballots be re-counted one after the other in open court, and we intend to oppose those applications.”
He argued that “the Electoral Act is in our favour, the Kaduna people have spoken, they picked 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.”