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PDP protests against dissolution of Osun poll tribunal

Senator Ademola Adeleke representing APC

Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun yesterday stormed the premises of the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo, the state capital to protest against an alleged sudden disbandment of the panel.

Displaying placards bearing different inscriptions, the protesters said they were eager to witness the hearing of the PDP petition, saying justice delayed was justice denied.

A chieftain of PDP, Mr Niyi Owolade who addressed journalists on behalf of the protesters expressed dismay over the development.

Owolade explained that the party filed a petition on Tuesday, in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Governor -elect, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola and All Progressives Congress (APC) were joined as respondents.

He further explained that while the first respondent, INEC had been served, Oyetola and his party had declined service, which compelled them to file an application for substituted service.

The former Osun State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice said they were taken aback yesterday morning when officials of the tribunal informed them that the tribunal had been disbanded without giving any reason for such an action and without evidence of constituting another soon.

His words: “While we have been able to serve the first respondent, the second and the third respondents declined service. So, we brought an application here yesterday for substituted service.

“The application was to have been heard 9:00 a.m this morning but we were surprised when we heard that the panel has been disbanded. What is even more surprising is that they disbanded a panel without replacement.

“We all know that election petition matters are sui jeneris, our 180 days started counting from 16th October, and section 285, sub-section 6 of the 1999 constitution is clear about that.

“By the 180 days duration, final judgement on this matter is to be delivered on or before April 15, 2019, and the time is of essence.

“ We are surprised that the President of Appeal Court, who is saddled with the responsibility of constituting an election tribunal has not deemed it fit to have put in place a new panel “, he said.

Owolade demanded an immediate constitution of the panel in order to continue with the process without further delay.

He noted that there must never be any vacuum in the pattern of constituting an election panel, adding that the people were seriously waiting for justice.

“We are presently in limbo because time is of essence, we want a new panel to be put in place immediately to continue the process, we are appealing to the president of Appeal Court to do the needful”, he said.

The PDP at the national level also condemned the dissolution of the Osun tribunal.

It equally demanded the immediate reconstitution of the tribunal, stating that further delay would jeopardise the course of justice in the matter.

The party, in a statement released by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the disbanding of the tribunal by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachwa, was a development which, if not quickly addressed, would send a very bad signal on the integrity of the judiciary.

The PDP said its submission “is predicated on reports that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been mounting pressure on the judiciary to deny the PDP justice in the determination of the Osun Governorship election dispute at the tribunal”

It invited Nigerians to note that in its “lawful effort to reclaim our stolen mandate, PDP duly filed its petition on Tuesday October 15, 2018 in accordance with section 285 (6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which prescribed that judgment must be delivered on or before 180 days.”

The PDP asked the President of the Court of Appeal to note that her disbanding of the panel without setting up a new one amounted to “ a deliberate attempt to prevent the PDP from serving the APC and its candidate and to meet the constitutional 180 days timeframe for the determination of the case at the Tribunal”

It stated that “the failure to set up a new panel to timeously hear our application for substituted service on APC and its candidate smacks of a shenanigan to deny our party full justice in the matter.”

The PDP said it was aware that the original panel was disbanded after the APC and its candidate had failed to manipulate and compromise the members to frustrate its case.

The opposition party urged the President of the Court of Appeal “not to bend to the proclivities of the APC and its candidate to bring the vouched reputation of the judiciary into a shameful disrepute, in their desperation to hold onto a stolen mandate.

“It is also imperative to state that the 2018 Osun Governorship election has become the interest of not only Nigerians but also the global community. As such, every institution that has a role in ensuring fairness and justice, particularly, the judiciary, must rise to its responsibility and not succumb to unlawful and anti-people predilections.”

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