By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
The new Chairman of the Oyo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, Justice Mohammed Aliu Mayaki, on Tuesday saved the day as he formally took over as the chairman of the tribunal entertaining the petition filed by the state’s former governor Rashidi Ladoja challenging the election of Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
The problem was a controversy over arguments on issues concerning the service of application for a motion on a defense counsel in the petition.
Justice Mayaki had to intervene to ward off controversy and technical logjam concerning the petition when Chief Richard Ogunwole (SAN), the lead counsel to the petitioner, Ladoja, prayed the tribunal to let his own motion concerning the pre-hearing formalities be heard first.
That is ahead of those of the lead defence counsel for Governor Ajimobi, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), APC counsel, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and lawyer for the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Oyo State, Ambassador Rufus Akeju, and INEC, Barrister Adeboye Shobanjo. Ogunwole‘s motion, dated July 2, 2015 and filed on July 3, 2015, was meant to consolidate all his other motions concerning the pre-hearing formalities.
The motion was one of his two motions filed before the tribunal in connection with the petition.
The other motion, dated July 3, 2015 and filed on July 4, 2015, being a prayer before the tribunal, which he said was “a leave to submit our report.”
Olanipekun, however, kicked against Ogunwole’s request, urging the court to entertain his own two motions first.
The two motions, according to him, were a prayer urging the tribunal to strike out the entire petition by former Gov. Ladoja, challenging the results of the governorship election while the second motion wanted the tribunal to “strike out the entire reply filed by the petitioner (Ladoja) to the first respondent’s (Governor Ajimobi) reply.”
The legal practitioner as well as other counsel further told the court that they were yet to be served with copies of Chief Ogunwole’s first motion filed on July 4, 2015.
The counsel maintained that the motion was also not listed in the form TF08, as demanded by the Electoral Act, insisting that Ogunwole’s motion was therefore “not ripe for hearing.”
Olanipekun further told the tribunal that if the tribunal should entertain Ogunwole’s motion, then the tribunal must as well entertain his earlier two motions.
Consequently, a court bailiff was summoned to clarify whether Ogunwole’s motion was served through the court on time as the legal practitioner claimed.
The tribunal chairman later intervened, directing Ogunwole to serve all the defence counsel the application of the motion, while they (the counsel) all confirmed receipt of the application on the spot.
Justice Mayaki, thereafter, adjourned further hearing till Tuesday, to allow all the applications to be taken, declaring that “we have to be careful to avoid unnecessary delay.
“There should not be any technical approach to issues. We, on our part, will endeavour to provide substantial justice at the end of the day.”