Election tribunal begins sitting in Ogun amid tension
Allegation of attack on Sowunmi puerile, self-serving, says Ogun State govt
The Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta, yesterday, commenced hearing of the petition filed by candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ladi Adebutu, against Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
There was a mild drama at the gate of the Magistrate’s Court in Isabo, venue of the tribunal, as hundreds of APC and PDP supporters stormed the court in solidarity with their parties.
They were, however, prevented from gaining access into the court premises as security operatives took charge of the situation.
It took the intervention of fully-armed security operatives, comprising the police, Department of State Services (DSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) who dispersed the supporters before peace could be restored.
The road leading to the court was also blocked to prevent vehicular movement.
The supporters, however, re-converged on the road opposite the court premises, a development, which sparked anxiety.
The tribunal began its sitting amid tension as suspected political thugs “invaded” the court with canes and other weapons.
A governorship aspirant of the PDP, Segun Showunmi, was allegedly attacked.
In his address, Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Hamidu Kunaza, disclosed that the tribunal received four petitions, adding that two of the petitions had been struck out.
Kunaza, who warned the legal teams of both parties not to mislead the court by adopting “delay tactics” in the proceedings, urged them to cooperate with the tribunal.
He assured the parties of justice and satisfaction at the end of the hearing.
Kunaza, however, adjourned till Tuesday, June 13, 2023 for continuation of hearing.
MEANWHILE, Ogun State government has denied any purported attack on Sowunmi at the premises of the tribunal, saying no such attack happened at the venue of the sitting, which is being protected by a retinue of security personnel.
The state government, in a statement by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Waheed Adesina, denied the allegation that political thugs attacked the PDP chieftain, saying nothing could be further from the truth.
Adesina said some members of the public, who had attempted to gain entrance into the tribunal to observe the proceedings were prevented from doing so as the tribunal members ordered that the gate of the Magistrate’s Court be shut immediately sitting commenced.
He said a large number of APC and PDP supporters, including other neutral observers that arrived at the venue late, were affected.
According to the permanent secretary, Sowunmi later came and mounted pressure on the security agents at the gate to allow him access after identifying himself as a stakeholder.
The attempt to open the gate for him angered the crowd outside, which resulted in a mild protest and resistance to the move as the people felt he should not enjoy any preferential treatment.
According to the statement, the protest has no political colouration as it was spontaneous and carried out by all those outside the premises of the tribunal, including PDP and APC members and the general public, who felt that they are also important as well as stakeholders in the state.
The statement warned against the spread of fake and unsubstantiated stories that could plunge the state into political quagmire.