Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC have accused the petitioners in the ongoing Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital of drawing the process backward.
Speaking to journalists immediately after the sitting yesterday, lead Counsel to Amosun and APC, John Olusola Baiyeashea (SAN) said he did not know what the petitioners were afraid of.
Baiyeashea was reacting to the development during the court session when counsel to the petitioners, Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN) called only one witness and told the court that he couldn’t reach others for the tribunal hearing yesterday.
Oyeyipo who had earlier informed the court at one of the sittings that he had nine witnesses stunned members of the panel when he said other witnesses were not in court.
He however sought for adjournment and for more days to carry out the order for the inspection of electoral materials, which was granted at the last adjourned date.
He told the court that the seven days granted by the court for the exercise was not enough saying they had only succeeded in inspecting three out of nine local governments under contention.
But reacting to the development, Baiyeashea accused the petitioners of being reluctant to prosecute their case saying the respondents are ready and willing to do the case within the record time.
He said, “there has been the belief from certain quarters that we are the one that don’t want the case to proceed. We are not afraid of the case and that is why we have come out boldly to say ‘let us hear this petition’ but surprisingly it is the petitioners that are drawing back and applying the brakes.
“We don’t know what their fear is, so that the whole world would know that the respondents are ready, able and willing to do the case at record time, the petitioners brought us here but they don’t want to move.
“I can’t speak for them why they are reluctant to prosecute their case. I think I should leave that guess work to all citizens because if you come to court as petitioner, and we said ‘prove your case’ and you begin to develop cold feet, any reasonable person can draw any inference they like, I don’t want to do that.”
Reacting to the allegation, Oyeyipo however dispelled the insinuation saying he was only confronted with some circumstances beyond his control.
He also promised to prosecute the case within the stipulated time adding that the case doesn’t require many witnesses.
He said, “we are not applying any brake but if you’re familiar with court proceedings, sometimes you know that some circumstances arise that are beyond your control.
“Here we are, we were given a number of days within which to complete and make copies of some essential documents from INEC, seven days precisely but even before we started the exercise, we had a lot of hitches not caused by us.
“Some of the hitches were caused because parties could not agree on the number of observers and even time to start. Part of the itches are that the documents are scattered all over the state and we need to bring everything together, so we have to move with the tide as much as possible.”
The chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Henry Olusiyi also expressed dissatisfaction at the pace of the case saying Oyeyipo shouldn’t have allowed the intervening circumstances to stampede him.
Earlier, the only available witness, Alhaji Waidan Folarin adopted his written disposition that was filed before the court.
But during the cross examination by Baiyeashea, the witness, a PDP agent in Borehole Polling Unit in Ado Odo/Ota local government during the election could not tell the court the number of wards in his local government or units in his ward.
In his short ruling, the chairman granted the application sought by the petitioners and also granted an adjournment till Thursday for the continuation of the hearing.