Tribunal grants Isiaka’s plea for more time to inspect electoral material
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital yesterday granted the request of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and its candidate, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka more days to inspect electoral materials used for April 11, this year election.
The request was granted as the case entered the trial stage. Isiaka and the PDP are contesting the victory of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, claiming that the election was marred by irregularities and rigging in nine (9) local councils.
Governor Amosun and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has however, accused the petitioners of deliberately drawing the proceedings backward.
Speaking to journalists immediately after yesterday’s sitting, lead counsel to the defendants, John Olusola Baiyeashea (SAN) said it appeared to him that the petitioners are afraid of “something that is why they are deliberately delaying the proceedings at the court.”
Earlier in the course of the proceedings, counsel to the petitioners, Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN) who sought for the permission of the court argued that the seven days earlier granted by the tribunal was not enough to carry out the exercise.
Oyeyipo explained that the petitioners had not been able to access results of more than three out of the nine local councils under contention due to the limited time, adding that the documents being accessed were crucial to prove their case.
Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Henry Olusiyi, however, insisted that the three days sought would be within the 14 days available for the petitioners to prove their case.
In his short ruling, the Chairman granted the application and also granted an adjournment till Thursday for the continuation of the hearing. Earlier, one of the applicants’ witnesses, Alhaji Waidan Folarin adopted his written disposition filed before the court.
A copy of a statement obtained from the witness by newsmen indicated that no incidence form was signed at his polling units and also “the electoral officers deliberately did not use the card readers to authenticate the genuineness of the voters cards as all voters were allowed to vote regardless of whether the cards were recognised or not.”
This, he said, was against the electoral law. The defendants’ counsel, Baiyeashea lamenting that the petitioners called only one witness out of the nine he was suppose to call insisted that the petitioners were deliberately delaying proceedings for reasons best known to them.
His words, “There has been the belief from certain quarters that we are the ones that do not want the case to proceed, we are not afraid of the case and that is why we have come out boldly to say ‘let us hear this petition’ but surprisingly it is the petitioners that are drawing back and applying the brakes.”
We don’t know what their fear is, the whole world should know that the respondents are ready, able and willing to do the case at record time, the petitioners brought us here but they don’t want to move. “I can’t speak for them why they are reluctant to prosecute their case, I think I should leave that guess work to all citizens because if you come to court as petitioner, and we said ‘prove your case’ and you begin to develop cold feet, any reasonable person can draw any inference they like, I don’t want to do that.”
But reacting to the allegation, Oyeyipo dismissed the insinuation, saying he was only confronted with some circumstances beyond his control and pledged to prosecute the case within the stipulated time, adding that the case did not require many witnesses.
He said, “We are not applying any brake but if you’re familiar with court proceedings, sometimes you know that some circumstances arise that are beyond your control. “Some of the hitches were caused because parties could not agree on the number of observers and even the time to start, part of the itches are that the documents are scattered all over the state and we need to bring everything together, so we have to move with the tide as much as possible.”