The Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday began the inspection of ballot papers used by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of the September 28 governorship election.
This followed a motion ex-parte granted by the Election Petitions Tribunal in Benin, led by Justice A. T. Badamasi, to the PDP and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to enable them inspect all materials used for the poll.
Counsel to the PDP, Kingsley Obamogie, had explained that the application to assess the materials was in line with Section 151 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.
It was, however, learnt that the inspection of the electoral materials at the INEC state headquarters in Benin commenced without the representatives of the ruling All Progressives Congress, after the APC filed a petition before the tribunal to challenge the commencement of the exercise.
Counsel to the PDP, Prof. Edoba Omoregie, told journalists that though the suit filed by the APC had not been heard by the court, it would not alter the process which both parties had earlier agreed upon.
According to a letter dated November 2, 2016, and signed by the Administrative Secretary of INEC, Oscar-Lee Amaechi, the two parties had agreed to carry out a joint inspection of the electoral materials.
Copies of the letter, marked INEC/ED/ADM/476/111 and containing the modalities for the inspection, were also said to have been made available to the chairmen, secretaries and counsel to the APC and PDP.
It was learnt that INEC had insisted on going ahead with the inspection at 9am daily until it was finally disposed off as it was “in view of the time” and the need for it to “maintain transparency and neutrality.”
“Where a party is not present by 9am, inspection will not stop. It must go on,” it added.