Ondo Guber: Tribunal Warns Counsel against Making Personal Contact


Dismisses two petitions

By James Sowole

The Ondo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which was constituted to hear complaints on the October 10, 2020, election in the state, yesterday warned counsel appearing before it against making any form of personal contacts with any of the members of the panel.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Umar Abubakar, issued the warning at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal yesterday.

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede, had filed petition against the electoral victory of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

While soliciting the cooperation of the interested parties towards accelerated sitting, Abubakar maintained that all contacts should be channeled through the registrar of the tribunal.

The tribunal chairman declared that all the petitions are time bound.

“There should be no communication, be it official or private, with any member of the tribunal. All means of communication should be channeled through the registrar.

“Whatever relationship you have with any member before now should not be exhibited throughout the sitting,” he stated.

While assuring the tribunal of the necessary cooperation needed, counsel for APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), that of Jegede, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) agreed that no time would be wasted during the sitting.

Jegede is challenging the victory of Akeredolu at the tribunal on three grounds.

The PDP candidate averred that “Akeredolu was not validly nominated by his party, the APC. By the provisions of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution, a serving governor of a state (in this case, Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni) cannot serve as the national chairman of APC at the same time to nominate Akeredolu as the candidate of their party for the Ondo State election.

“Section 183 states that: ‘The governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or pay employment in any capacity whatsoever.”

Jegede added in the petition that “Article 17, Section 1V of the APC Constitution also provides that any official of the party cannot simultaneously occupy any other executive office in the government.

“The election was marred with violence in some local government areas as well as issues of over-voting in other areas.”

Meanwhile, the tribunal at its sitting dismissed two out of the three petitions filed before it

The dismissed petitions were that of the All Peoples Party (APP) and that of the Action Alliance (AA).

The tribunal dismissed the petitions sequel to the failure of the petitioners to file pre-trial forms, which the panel described as fundamental.

The tribunal awarded N100,000 cost against the petitioners in favour of each respondent in the dismissed petitions.

With the dismissal of the two petitions, the tribunal now has only the petition of the PDP candidate to attend to.

Meanwhile, early yesterday morning, suspected hoodlums caused confusion outside the Ondo State High Court complex, the venue of the sitting of the tribunal.

The hoodlums, armed with dangerous weapons, stormed the Oba Osupa Road as early as 8:30 a.m. brandishing cutlasses, broken bottles and cane ostensibly to attack whoever dares them.

The rampaging hoodlums attacked some people attempting to gain entry into the premises of the court.

One Sunday Oladunmoye, who is the driver of one of the attorneys of the PDP, Mr. Sola Oke, was injured in the process by the hoodlums.

However, the prompt arrival of the military and other security agencies, in response to the call for reinforcements, saved the situation.