Fayemi: Olusola: Tight security as Ekiti tribunal begins sitting

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There was a heavy security on Monday in Ado Ekiti High Court, where the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal is sitting, as the 3-man panel of Tribunal judges set up to hear the petition trailing the outcome of the July 14 election began sitting.

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Members of the panel are: Justice Suleiman Belgore (Chairman), Justice Ebiyerin Omukoro and Aliyu Baba Usman.

The Ekiti State Police command deployed an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) and several police vans which are strategically positioned in front of the court to ward off hooligans and troublemakers.

Those entering the premises, including journalists and judicial officers, were thoroughly frisked before being allowed entry.

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The armoured tank, patrol vans and the personnel were strategically stationed while performing their duty.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore, in his inaugural speech, promised that they would act truly as unbiased umpire and won’t betray the confidence reposed in them by the Appeal Court President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwal.

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof Kolapo Olusola, is challenging the declaration of Dr Kayode Fayemi as the duly elected Governor, describing the election as a sham, having been allegedly rigged in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Fayemi polled a total of 197,459 to defeat Olusola , who garnered an aggregate of 178, 122 votes.

Belgore added that the Tribunal shall comply strictly with the provisions of the 1999 constitution, Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rule and the Practice Directive as issued by the President of the Court of Appeal.

He said the panel won’t tolerate any act that could be inimical to smooth running of the Tribunal regarding the hearing and dispensation of judgement within 180 days stipulated by the Appeal Court.

“It would be recalled that on the 14th of July, 2018, election was held into the office of the Governor of Ekiti State. Following the declaration and return of Dr Fayemi of the APC as the winner, his co-contestant, Prof Olusola of the PDP is challenging the outcome and the declaration before this Tribunal.

“We cannot lose sight of the importance of our oath of office, the sacred duties we owe our conscience and the judiciary. We therefore, wish to assure all parties counsels and indeed all and sundry that the field will not only be levelled but officiating shall be impartial, fair and strictly in accordance with the relevant provisions of our laws.

“Let me warn that the Tribunal will not condone acts inimical to smooth proceedings. We hereby appeal to the members of the bar to show courtesy, diligence and due sense of professionalism in their appearances before us.

”We must all bear in mind at all times that section 285 of the constitution and Section 134(2) of the Electoral Act are clear that all petitions must be heard and judgements delivered within 180 days. So, we don’t have the luxury of time. We intend to be pedantic in our work.

“To the security agencies, especially Department of State Security and the police, we implore you to be fully alert and conscious of your operations. You cannot afford to exhibit laxity or laziness or indeed any slight indifference to security challenges in the course of performing our duties,” he said.

The Counsel to the petitioner, Barrister Adebayo Adelodun (SAN) applauded the Tribunal for giving the assurances that the Tribunal will give a level playing ground.

Adelodun, who represented the petitioner’s Lead Counsel, Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), said: “My lords, I am happy by your assurances that we will get fair hearing. Regarding our cooperation you sought for, you can be rest assured,” he assured.

Counsel to APC, Chief ,Akin Olujimi (SAN) and that of Fayemi, Chief Lateef Fagbemi(SAN), assured that they would not venture into any conduct that would slow down proceedings or impede the hearing of the Tribunal.