Owing to security concerns raised by counsel to the PDP and its candidate, Prof Kolapo Olusola, venue of the sittings of the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has been moved out of Ado Ekiti to another location to be communicated to parties within the next 48 hours.
The panel chairman, Justice Suleiman Belgore gave the ruling at the resumed sitting of the three-member panel on Monday.
Lawyers to the applicants had urged the tribunal to shift its further sittings to Abuja, the nation’s capital.
This was sequel to the alleged intimidating presence of cane-wielding party members outside the Ekiti State High Court complex in Fajuyi area of Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
Ado Ekiti High Court venue of Tribunal sitting was invaded by thug in APC branded T-Shirts. They were allegedly led by a former RTEAN chairman, Rotimi Olanbiwonnu (Mentillo) and Deji Adesokan (Jaru).
The thugs brandished hundreds of canes, sticks, broken bottles and other dangerous weapons and attacked lawyers, court workers, PDP supporters and passers by.
Among those attacked were two members of the State House of Assembly, Hon Samuel Omotoso and Hon Dayo Akinleye (Dayo Maxima).
First to lodge complaint at the resumed sitting was Mr. Adebayo Adelodun, counsel to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Prof Kolapo Olusola.
Adelodun who described the atmosphere outside the court as “scary and alarming” told the panel that the petitioners’ lawyers were held up at the same spot on their way to the court for several minutes.
Adelodun said they were allowed entry following the intervention of a senior police officer saying the continued presence of the crowd of partisans won’t allow them to do their jobs as freely as possible.
He, therefore, called for the shift of further tribunal proceedings to Abuja in view of the alleged security threat posed to them.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Charles Edosomwan, said he also observed the rowdiness outside the courtroom saying the petitioners’ observation should be taken note of for the lawyers’ safety.
He supported the call that the tribunal’s sittings be taken to Abuja.
Counsel to APC, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi, said he wholeheartedly support the call for the movement of the tribunal venue to a neutral venue suggesting Abuja as an alternative.
Counsel to Fayemi, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, stressed that “security is not a matter to be trivialised” argued that a change of venue had become inevitable for all of us.”
Fagbemi said no matter how prepared counsels and witnesses are, security scare won’t allow them have rest of mind hence the need to grant the request.
He added: “It has been very, very scary and in order to prevent this atmosphere of lawlessness that may hamper the work of this tribunal, I want to join my colleagues to call for a change of venue of this tribunal.”