Procedure queried

National, Normal


FORMER prime minister Paias Wingti, who successfully nullified Tom Olga’s election victory as Western Highlands governor, told the Waigini Supreme Court yesterday that Mr Olga did not follow the proper process of judicial review to review the National Court decision that ordered a by-election of the provincial seat.
Mr Wingti’s lawyer, Alfred Manase, submitted that Mr Olga’s lawyers and the PNG Electoral Commission did not follow the correct principle under section 220 of the Organic Law to judicially review the decision. 
Mr Manase said that the submissions made by the two parties earlier raised only the grounds of appeal that had already been resolved by the National Court and did not raise any point under the provision of the Organic Law to support their arguments.
He said that allegations of irregularities during the recount of the ballot boxes had already been dealt with by the trial judge who rejected them all.
Mr Manase submitted that the trial judge, Justice David Cannings, found sufficient evidence of the irregularities that occurred during the recount and based on those findings, prompting him to ordered a by-election.
“The trial judge did not base his decision alone on the recount reports submitted by the returning officer, Alwyn Jimmy, but considered other relevant grounds as well before handing the decision,” he told the court.
While referring to Mr Olga’s push for a second recount, Mr Manase submitted that there
were no laws that allowed for this after the first recount.
He also submitted that the National Court considered five issues of errors and omissions in the recount, and most of the errors and omissions were accepted by all the parties in the proceedings, apart from the allegations of bias and bribery.
Mr Manase submitted that the court also did not find any evidence of bias or bribery on the part of returning officer Mr Jimmy.
He told the court that one of the ballot boxes, box 0386, for Keltiga polling place , was not counted during the recount and was
later found with no ballot papers inside, among other boxes that were stored in a container
at the Mt Hagen police station.
Mr Manase submitted that the final tally sheets also proved that the ballot papers contained in that box were not counted.
Andrew Kongri for the Electoral Commission argued that the box 0386 ballot papers were counted.
Mr Olga’s counsel Kelly Naru also told the court that the ballot boxes for Keltiga were counted.
Mr Naru said they had followed proper procedures in the judicial review process. 
The three-man Supreme Court bench  adjourned the matter to next month for a ruling.