THE Ekiti State governorship election petitions tribunal sitting in Ado Ekiti has granted an application that the sittings of the tribunal be moved from Ekiti State.
The tribunal had commenced sitting on Monday, but did not find things smooth as political party supporters and hoodlums invaded the Ekiti State Judiciary Complex, where the tribunal is located, and its vicinity and had caused chaos.
Counsels for the petitioner, Professor Kolapo Olubunmi Olusola and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and those of the respondents, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Dr Kayode Fayemi, lamented their ordeals as they arrived at the complex for the commencement of proceedings.
Counsel for the PDP and Professor Olusola, Adebayo Adelodun, said they “would have been prevented from entering on our way to the court this morning.
“We were accosted by stick-wielding thugs. To say we were scared is an understatement and we were held for several minutes until a senior security man intervened.
“This happened in spite of security men in our vehicle and we were subjected to this scary treatment.”
Following this, Adelodun made an oral application for the tribunal to move out of Ekiti and asked that the venue of the sitting be moved to another state.
Adelodun suggested that the tribunal moves to Abuja.
Reacting to Adelodun’s application for a change of venue for the sitting, counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Charles Edosomwan, while agreeing with Adelodun, also drew the attention of the tribunal to the crowd outside the tribunal, wielding sticks and other objects.
Edosamwan said: “The petitioners’ expressed anxiety should be taken note of for the security of all of us. Categorically speaking, I have no objection to the application by my learned friend to have the venue moved elsewhere.”
Also speaking in support of the application, counsel for the APC, Akinlolu Olujimi (SAN), said “the insecurity has happened before, some four years ago my partner and now governor of Ondo State Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, was attacked with stones and the case had to be moved to Abuja for the safety of all parties.
“I saw the unruly crowd holding sticks under the long bridge. I wholeheartedly support the application to have a neutral venue for the sitting and I also support that Abuja is an alternative venue for us. It is all in the interest of all of us.”
Counsel for Dr Fayemi, Lateef Fagbemi, said “one of my junior colleagues called to advise that we should be careful while approaching the court as we were also molested on our way.
“As I was approaching the court this morning, I saw evidence of those people wielding sticks and cudgels. The issue of security is not a matter to be trivialised. This is a situation where a change of venue has become inevitable to all of us. No matter how prepared you are, without rest of mind, there is little you can do.”
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Sulaiman Belgore, granted the application by Adelodun, and ruled that a new venue would be announced within 48 hours.
Justice Belgore while granting the application said: “We have considered the issue critically and very extensively, we are mindful of the consequences of the insecurity, the application is not opposed by any of the counsel of the parties.
“It is a situation we cannot afford to ignore. The application is therefore granted on the sole ground of the security of all of us. The venue and date of new relocation to be communicated within the next 48 hours.”
Meanwhile, two lawmakers of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Mr Dayo Akinleye and Dr Samuel Omotoso, alleged that some persons they claimed to be thugs of the All Progressives Congress (APC), attacked them and had shot sporadically at the venue.
Omotosho, who is the Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Information, said they and other members of the PDP were attacked by a mob of the alleged thugs while they were entering the court premises.
Reacting to the allegation, chairman of APC in the state, Chief Paul Omotosho, said: “the allegations is unfounded and that is so unfortunate.”
Omotosho said “the area where they claimed to have been attacked is occupied by mere spectators who just came around to see what is happening at the court. So for anybody to now conclude that they are APC is unfair.”
He said “for PDP lawmakers to say that APC members attacked them is false and unfounded. Our members are very peaceful and peace loving. We are very disciplined people.”