Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded the immediate reconstitution of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, saying that further delay could jeopardise the course of justice in the matter.
The opposition party’s submission was predicated on reports that the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been mounting pressure on the judiciary to deny the PDP justice in the determination of the Osun governorship election dispute at the tribunal.
The party therefore frowned on the disbanding of the panel by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachwa, a development which it said if not quickly addressed could send a bad signal on the integrity of the judiciary.
The PDP noted that the President of the Court of Appeal should note that her disbanding of the panel without setting up a new one, shows a deliberate attempt to prevent the PDP from serving the APC and its candidate and to meet the constitutional 180 days timeframe for the determination of the case at the tribunal.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said it was aware that the original panel was disbanded after the APC and its candidate had failed to manipulate and compromise the members to frustrate the case.
He stated: “The PDP therefore urges the President of the Court of Appeal not to bend to the proclivities of the APC and its candidate to bring the vouched reputation of the judiciary into a shameful disrepute in their desperation to hold onto a stolen mandate.
“It is also imperative to state that the 2018 Osun governorship election has become the interest of not only Nigerians but also the global community. As such, every institution that has a role in ensuring fairness and justice, particularly, the judiciary, must rise to its responsibility and not succumb to unlawful and anti-people predilections.
“While the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was served, the APC and its candidate evaded service. Consequently, the PDP on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 applied for substituted service, which was slated for hearing today, Thursday, October 18, 2018, only to be informed that the panel has been disbanded on Wednesday without any reason and without providing a new panel to hear our matter.
“Election petition matters are sui generis, with specific timeframe allotted to various stages up to the final determination. The failure to set up a new panel to timeously hear our application for substituted service on APC and its candidate smacks of a shenanigan to deny our party full justice in the matter.”
The opposition party therefore invites Nigerians to note that in its lawful effort to reclaim its stolen mandate, PDP duly filed its petition on Tuesday, October 15, 2018 in accordance with section 285 (6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which prescribed that judgment must be delivered on or before 180 days.