Ogun Tribunal: APC,PDP supporters clash averted again in court

Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka

Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka

Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka
Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka

Abiodun Onafuy/Abeokuta

What could have resulted in a serious violence was Tuesday averted by the police when supporters of the All Progressives Congress, APC and the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stormed the court in their hundreds and caused a very rowdy atmosphere within the court premises while the sitting was going on.

The quick intervention of security operatives prevented the situation from degenerating into a violent clash. The police quickly marched the party supporters out of the court premises.

The tribunal last Saturday hurriedly adjourned sitting at around 10:30pm when some hoodlums suspected to be political thugs invaded the court premises at Isabo, Abeokuta.

During today’s incident, the Area Commander of Abeokuta, Presley Dode, arrived the court premises with about five Hilux vans loaded with mobile policemen.

The main gate to the Isabo court was shut immediately. While at least 20 officers were deployed at the entrance, fully armed officers surrounded Court 7, venue of the sitting of the Tribunal.

The Chairman of the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Henry Olusiyi dispelled report in some section of the media (not P.M.NEWS) that it refused to sit on Monday because of a report of impending attack by some political thugs in the state.

Addressing the full crowd in the court Tuesday, Olusiyi said the tribunal was not threatened by any imminent attack, but did not sit on Monday on request by the counsel to the 1st Respondent, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.

Meanwhile, the last witness called by the petitioners Tuesday, Benjamin Ibikunle, shocked the court when he confirmed that there were inconsistencies in the report of inspection tendered before the court.

The petitioners, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate in the April 11 governorship election in the state,
Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka, had brought in the witness through an application to tender the report of inspection carried out on electoral materials used for the election.

At the resumed hearing Tuesday, Ibikunle was cross-examined by counsel to the 1st – 3rd Respondents, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, George Oyeniyi and Oluwajare Ogunnaike respectively.

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While being cross-examined by Ogunnaike, Ibikunle agreed that the report cointained a lot of irregularities, but that the irregulars “are not substantial enough”.

Ibikunle threw the whole court into serious laughter while the Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Olusiyi jokingly asked the witness if he had been doing secret law course, for him to have known that the irregularities were not substantial.

He was confronted with a lot of errors in his report of inspection by the counsel but claimed that the errors were committed by other members of the inspection team.

The witness was confronted with copies of electoral material which he claimed to have inspected at the INEC office in order to compare them with figures he quoted in his report.

Closing his case, counsel to the Petitioners, Adetunji Oyeyipo, SAN, also echoed the statement of the witness, saying it was as if the witness read his mind before making such statement.

“The process has been okay, we can’t say in anyway that we have been prevented from presenting our case. I believe the tribunal has been fair in its handling of the case up to this point and I have no fear that the Tribunal will continue to be fair to all the parties.

“It appeared that the witness was reading my mind from the witness box because I share the same view with him. So far, we have put in substantial evidence which we believe to get judgement in our favour,” the counsel said.

PDP and Isiaka had approached the tribunal, challenging the result of the election which returned Senator Ibikunle Amosun for second term in office, saying the result contained many irregularities and was not in conformity with the Electoral Law.

The petitioners have succeeded in tendering over 4,000 evidences before the court and called nine witnesses in support of the case.

The first respondent is however expected to open its defence Wednesday and would have about 14 days as required by the law to conclude.