…PDP demands reconstitution
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State are protesting on the premises of the Osun State High Court following the disbandment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal hearing matters arising from the recently concluded governorship poll in the state.
Scores of PDP members while staging a peaceful protest in the court premises carried placards with the inscriptions such as ‘Why the sudden disbandment of the panel?’ Constitute a new panel immediately now?’ No more Salamigate in Osun’ Save our democracy from rogues’”
They said that the alleged disbandment would have a negative effect on the case of the petitioner.
A former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Osun State, Mr Niyi Owolade, who is one of the counsels for the governorship candidate of the PDP in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, said the disbandment of the panel ought to have been done simultaneously with the constitution of a new one.
Adeleke’s counsel who raised the alarm while addressing journalists in front of the courtroom where the panel usually sat said the dissolution of the three-man panel headed by Justice T. A. Igoche, would adversely affect the prosecution of the case.
The counsel said that they were worried because they filed an exparte application for substituted service on the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola and the APC who he claimed had been evading service.
He, however, said that members and chairman of the tribunal were nowhere to be found when the application was supposed to be heard today.
He said, “We were told by court officials that the panel has been disbanded. But what is more surprising is that a new panel has not been put in place. It should be done simultaneously.
“Our 180 days have started counting since October 16 and final judgment is expected to be given in this petition before April 16, 2019.”
It was observed that the venue of the tribunal was locked and the court officials told journalists that there would be no sitting but no reason was given.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded the immediate reconstitution of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
The party, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Thursday in Abuja, said that further delay would jeopardize the course of justice in the matter.
Ologbondiyan frowned at the disbanding of the panel by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachwa, saying it was a development which, if not quickly addressed, would send a very bad signal on the integrity of the judiciary.
He said that PDP’s submission was predicated on reports that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had been mounting pressure on the judiciary to deny the PDP justice in the determination of the Osun governorship election dispute at the tribunal.
Ologbondiyan said that in the lawful effort of PDP to reclaim the mandate, the party duly filed its petition on Tuesday Oct. 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.
The PDP spokesman said that while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was served, the APC and its candidate evaded service.
“Consequently, the PDP on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018 applied for substituted service, which was slated for hearing Thursday, Oct. 18, 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.
“The President of the Court of Appeal should note that her disbanding of the panel without setting up a new one, goes to 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.
“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 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.” – NAN.