Option of Election petition remains

An appeal filed in the Supreme Court over appointments of the Hagen Returning officer and Assistant Returning officer has been dismissed.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia refused an application filed by James Yoka Ekip and Simon Sanagke over the Electoral Commission’s decision in appointing Paul Goema and Andrew Kerowa as the Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officer for the Hagen Open seat respectively.

They asked the court on Thursday through their lawyer to stay the decision of the National Court, when it refused to allow a Judicial review to be done into the appointment of Goema and Kerowa by Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.

They also asked the Supreme Court to issue restraining orders against the two from performing their role pursuant to their appointment.

Sir Salamo in a Supreme Court sitting on Saturday refused the stay application and interim orders they were asking from the court.

He said all is not lost and that Ekip and Sanagke still have the option of filing an election petition after the return of writs to challenge the decision of the returning officer and whoever the candidates that wins.

Ekip and Sanagke filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, asking the court to stay the decision of the National Court, dated 4 May, which refused an application they had earlier filed.    

There was no evidence put before the court today to show if Ekip and Sanagke filed nominations to contest the Hagen Open seat and are candidates.

Sir Salamo in his ruling on the application said the onus was on them to provide evidence to the court if they had filed nomination to contest the election.

There was evidence both were from the Hagen open electorate.

They had filed the Judicial review case in the National Court prior to the nominations and the matter came before the National court 13 days after it was filed, and after the close of nominations.

The Supreme Court also ruled that judicial review follows strict rules that have to be complied with before leave is granted for a judicial review to be conducted.

This case was dismissed in the leave stage and no interim orders were issued for the Supreme Court to stay.

The National Court was of the view then that the two applicants did not have sufficient interest to bring the judicial review, and did not have an arguable case when it dismissed their application seeking leave of the court to review the decision of the Electoral Commissioner.

Sally Pokiton