Ogeheneuwvede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
As the Edo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal begins its full sitting in Benin City, some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have alleged that one of the tribunal members, Justice Emmanuel Adesodun, was included in the tribunal by a serving minister from the South-west geo-political zone to help ‘“sustain the fraud perpetrated’’ during the governorship election in the state.
In a statement signed by Jacob Aliyu, on behalf of ‘Concerned Leaders of PDP in Edo State and released in Abuja yesterday, he said Justice Adesodun was allegedly nominated into the tribunal at the instance of the minister.
According to the statement, ‘’Information at our disposal indicates that Justice Adesodun was given clear instruction by Kayode Fayemi to see to the dismissal of the all petitions against the election of Governor Godwin Obaseki.’’
“Justice Adesodun was part of the Anambra State National Assembly Elections petition tribunal last year, prompting questions as to the rationale behind his inclusion in the Edo State Tribunal in spite of the directive of the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, that all judges that participated in election tribunal should give room for others who have never been nominated for such assignment, and prevent them from being manipulated.’’
The PDP chieftains added that the CJN position then was because some judges were discovered to have lobbied to be included in election tribunals so as to execute their pay-masters job.
They said question is also being raised as to the propriety of Justice Adesodun’s inclusion in the tribunal since it was the Vice Chancellor of Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Professor Kayode Soremekun that served as INEC Returning officer in the election.
The statement added, “How can the INEC Returning Officer come from an Ekiti State based university and one of the three members of the Tribunal will also come from Ekiti State?
“Even if a judge must be nominated from Ekiti State to be part of the tribunal, is Justice Adesodun, who joined the bench in 2012, the only judge from Ekiti, such that he will take part in two election tribunals within 15 months?
“Definitely, he is part of the Edo tribunal to do Fayemi’s hatchet job and if the interest of justice must be served, he should be excused from the tribunal forthwith.”
The statement recalled that in March, 2012, when Dr. Kayode Fayemi was the governor of Ekiti State, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended Adesodun, Bamidele Omotoso and Kayode Ogundana for appointment as a judge, but Fayemi only sworn in Adesodun.
It added that it took pressure from critical stakeholders for Ogundana to be sworn in later while Omotoso was sworn in by Governor Ayo Fayose.