Members of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State stormed the premises of the Osun State High Court on Wednesday to protest the alleged disbandment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal hearing matters arising from the recently concluded governorship poll in the state.
The PDP members, who protested on the court premises carried placards with inscriptions, ‘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 the alleged disbandment would have negative effect on the petition already filed in the court.
A former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Osun State, Mr Niyi Owolade, who is one of the counsel for the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, said the disbandment of the panel ought to have been done imultaneously with the constitution of a new one .
Adeleke’s counsel who said this while addressing journalists in front of the courtroom stressed that the dissolution of the three-man panel headed by Justice T. A. Igoche, would adversely affect the prosecution of the case.
The counsel said the petitioners were worried because they filed an exparte application for substituted service on the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, and his party who he claimed had been evading service.
He, however said members and chairman of the tribunal were nowhere to be found when the application was supposed to be heard today.
Owolade said, “We filed our petition on Tuesday, October 16 and we tried to effect service on the three respondents. INEC is the first respondent, Gboyega Oyetola is the second respondent and the APC is the third respondent. While we were able to serve the first respondent, the second and the third respondents are evading service.
“Based on this, we brought an application here yesterday for substituted service and the application was to be heard by 9:00 this morning but we were surprised when we heard that the panel has been disbanded. What is even more surprising is that they have been disbanded but they have not been replaced by a new panel.
“We all know that election petition matters are sue generis. Our 180 days started from the October 16 which was the day of filing. Section 285 (6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended is clear about that. So, the final judgment is to be given on or before April 16, 2019. Our 180 days have commenced and we cannot effect service which the law allows us.”