Ogun election petition tribunal’s abrupt adjournment causes tension
There was tension yesterday at the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, as it adjourned proceedings abruptly.
Allied Peoples Movement (APM) is challenging the victory of All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dapo Abiodun in the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election.
Proceedings had begun and the plaintiff’s lead counsel, Sebastine Hon (SAN) had crossed-examined three witnesses before the tribunal suddenly adjourned sitting.
Alarmed at the large number of APC supporters and allegation that APM gubernatorial candidate, Adekunle Akinlade had been withdrawn, Hon moved for adjournment to allow adequate security arrangements to be made, alleging that the lives of his clients were in danger.
“Witnesses who were to testify were threatened yesterday. The father of one of them told us that his life is being threatened. The rest have been threatened as well.
“We need to examine the security situation and secure our witnesses before we present them in court. Akinlade’s police security has been withdrawn. Our lives are threatened. This is a matter of life.
“We appeal that we are allowed to strengthen our security. This is the situation we have found ourselves, it is our challenge,” he stated.
Defence counsel, Abeeb Ajayi, however, countered Hon’s claims, saying: “I want to put it on record. Ogun State is peaceful socially or politically and so the reason for this adjournment is unacceptable.
“The identities of these witnesses are unknown; they are only known to the petitioners. That cannot be the reason for seeking adjournment if they have called 28 witnesses. There is no reason why they cannot call the other 22.
“My clients have not threatened anybody and, therefore, using that basis to secure an adjournment is an excuse taken too far.”
However, after listening to the argument of both counsel, Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Yusuf Halilu, said: “This place is very peaceful, but the petitioner has the right to communicate his fears to the court. If indeed there is any truth in the claim, I want you all to look into it.”
Halilu told both counsel to meet the state Commissioner of Police (CP) and ask him to provide adequate security at subsequent sittings, and adjourned the case to Monday.