The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Osun state chapter yesterday staged peaceful protest over alleged disbandment of the election petition tribunal set up to collate complaints that arose from the conduct of September 22 governorship poll in the state.
The party faithful resorted to protest as it seems the proceedings of the 3-member panel, that was to entertain receive petitions from respective political parties and gubernatorial candidates may have been halted as doors to the court room, located within the precinct of the Osun State High Court were locked.
Besides, the registry of the election tribunal had been shut, just as members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, displaying various placards and led by its secretary, Prince Bola Ajao stormed the court complex to protest what they termed abrupt closure of the election petition tribunal without any justifiable reason.
The development confirmed the growing speculations which became rife on Wednesday night that the President of the Court of Appeal may have sacked the election petition tribunal.
Speaking at the frontage of the court, one of the lawyers in the legal team of the PDP and its governorship candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, Barrister Niyi Owolade, who is also a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice said ” we filed our petition on Tuesday, 16th of October and we tried to effect service to the three respondents, namely INEC (1st), Gboyega Isiaka Oyetola (2nd) and APC, being the (3rd) respondent.”
“While we were able to serve the 1st respondent, the 2nd and the 3rd respondents declined service. So, we brought an application here yesterday for substituted service. The application was to have been heard 9.00 am today (Thursday), but we were surprised when we heard that the panel had been disbanded. What is even more surprising is the fact that you have disbanded and you have replaced.
“We all know that election petitions are swis generis. Our 180 days starts on the 16th of October, which was the day of filing, Section 285, Sub-Section 6 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended is clear about. So, judgment is to be given on or before 18th of April, 2019, I mean the final judgment.”
“But, if you have 180 days which has commenced and we cannot effect service which the laws allows of which order we would have gotten today has been denied.
“We are surprised that the President of the Court of Appeal saddled with the responsibility of empanelling election tribunal has not deemed it fit with greatest respect to her to have put in place a new panel simultaneously.
“We are surprised that we don’t have a new panel yet. We hope that would be done soonest”, Owolade remarked noting that it was a calculated attempt to frustrate the PDP in particular.