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Palpable tension seems to be currently brewing at the Ogun state Governorship election tribunal as the counsel of the petitioner Barr. Hon Sebastian raised alarm over threat to the lives of the witnesses.
Barr. Sebastian raised the alarm on Monday during court proceedings saying a witness was practically dragged out of the court by his father one day ago over an alleged threat to life.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the Police protecting the Petitioner and Governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) Hon. Abdulkabir Akinlade was withdrawn last week as he was said to have been managing different security threats since then.
To that end, Barr. Sebastian, however, requested that the hearing be stalled for the day until they review their security situations and as well lodge complaints to the right authorities.
Sebastian said, “The police Security for the defence petitioner who was the Governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) has been withdrawn. The witnesses who are to come and testify have been threatened just yesterday. One of them, the father came here. He said his life is under threat and that his son wanted to kill him. The rest have been under threat as well.
“So we told the tribunal that we can’t proceed today after we managed to secure the attendance of three witnesses. So we are going back to look at the security situation and appeal to the authorities. I personally would be making this appeal as well because we counsel, fellow petitioners and the petitioners themselves need security.
“Two ventilate their grievances at the tribunal, because the tribunals are established by the constitution of Nigeria to have electoral disputes resolved. The constitutional mischief or tendency is that people should not take laws into their own Hands. They should be able to come to the law court. In this case, the election tribunal to ventilate their grievances We have every right to be here and we ask the Inspector General of Police, SSS and all concerned to offer security to us.
He also added that his client is, however, appealing to the Inspector General of Police to wade into the issue adding that their hope lies in the Apex Police boss and not the commissioner of Police in the state.
“We have just appealed to the Inspector general of Police because I am made to understand by my client that It was the CP himself that withdrew his personal security. Our fate lies more in the hands of the Inspector General of Police than the Commissioner of Police. We are not disparaging him We are not trying to reduce his status. We are only saying the Inspector general of Police should look into our case.”
While responding, the counsel of the first respondent, Barr. Dele Adesina SAN opined that he can not imagine a more peaceful atmosphere than what is being enjoyed by the court since it started sitting.
“On the issue of threat to life, You have been here since the beginning of this hearing and what you see is important than what anyone tells you. I don’t see or imagine a more peaceful atmosphere than what we are seeing here.
“It is evident for everybody to see and beyond that, the person who is the Governor of the state today, My client is a man of peace just like I described him as a dove inside the tribunal room, I know him intimately. But, you know we lawyers can make a mountain out of a mould hill, we can describe a no petition as a petition.
“This allegation is like talking about a man who is not a man, trying to kill a bird which is not a bird, on a tree that is not a tree.”
When asked if he is ready to meet with the CP for the security of the petitioner and his client, he said ” Yes I am ready, I was the one that even said that first, that, if they need to be assured to Assemble their witnesses no problems we would help them, we would go to the commissioner of police to assure them.
“But if they can call 28 witnesses without any molestation then I don’t know what he is talking about”.
Also the counsel of the All Progressives Congress Habib Ajayi, also said, if withdrawing the security of the petitioner is a threat, the petitioner should better address that with the security adding that, it is an administrative issue between who provided the security and whom the security is being provided for.
His words, ” if there is threat because the Police attached to the petitioner was allegedly withdrawn, that is an issue the petitioner should take up with the security because that is not a threat as far as we are concerned , it is an administrative issue between whoever request for police protection and who gave police protection.
“For us, if the purpose is to Assemble their witnesses, they should do so. We have been cooperating and we would continue to do so”.
However, the Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Yusuf Halilu said for him, he is not afraid of anyone except God who he would give account of his stewardship to after death but stressed that the security of everyone is of utmost paramount.
“I am not afraid of anyone here but I am only concerned about what to tell my creator after my death.
“I have told you here, when I heard that panels are being disbanded here, in case you have to write a petition about me, please do and I will pack my bag and go back to my children in Abuja, they are already waiting for me.
“On the threat, I will want the counsels to meet with the commissioner of police for a better security architecture”.
The court was however adjourned till 24th June, 2019 for the petitioner to present more witnesses.