Judge to rule whether a recount of votes needed

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The National, Wednesday 15th May 2013


JUSTICE David Cannings will rule tomorrow whether there should be a recount of votes in the Usino-Bundi seat won by Anton Yagama during  last year’s general election.

This follows final submissions from lawyers on a petition against his win in the Madang National Court yesterday.

Nickson Kiuk, of Nikuma Lawyers representing petitioner Peter Yama, argued that four of the five grounds on competency allowed by the judge alleging errors and omissions were of substance.

He argued there was bias and undue influence on the part of electoral officials, particularly returning officer Steven Biko and assistant returning officer Joe Yama.

Kiuk said the Electoral Commission had failed the Usino-Bundi electorate by failing to conduct polling at marked locations.

He also argued that there was not enough policemen, putting the security of the elections at risk and leading to under-age and double voting.

“It can be said that the election process was hijacked and a forced closure of the election process was a one-man decision and not the Electoral Commissioner’s as should be,” he said.

Kiuk also claimed that Form 66B, which contained all election return results, were not signed by James Apimia, the Madang Open returning officer or the scrutineers.

Apimia, in an earlier cross examination, denied signing the form which was tendered to the court yesterday.

Tyson Baboro, of Harvey Nii Lawyers representing MP Yagama, and Joppo Umbu, of Kuman Lawyers representing the Electoral Commission, argued that Yama had failed to provide credible or material evidence to show that the actions of either Yama or Biko, who was alleged to have taken control of the election process, had tainted the election process.