APC: We’re not opposed to pasting of service at Government House
By Ismail Afolabi
The two major political parties in the August 9 governorship election in Osun State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples’
Democratic Party (PDP), have shifted their battle to the ElectionPetition Tribunal.
The parties had been slogging it out over the issue of inspection of materials used for the election since Tuesday only for a new battle about service of court processes and the propriety or otherwise of the tribunal chairman to preside over proceedings to begin.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of APC won the election with 394,684 votes to defeat PDP’s Senator Iyiola Omisore who polled 292,747 votes.
The two parties had returned to Osun State High Court where the tribunal is sitting and where the PDP counsel told the court that the 1st respondent, Governor Aregbesola, had been evading the service of court processes by allegedly instructing his aides and security details to not receive any document from the tribunal’s bailiff.
The tribunal, however, granted an order of substituted service to PDP to paste the notice of petition on the wall of the Government House, Oke-Fia, Osogbo where Governor Aregbesola resides.
Granting the order of substituted service, the chairman of thetribunal, Justice Suleiman Ambrusa said, “Having considered theparagraph 8 of the PDP’s counsel’s application, Aregebesola should be served the copy of the petition by pasting same on the walls of the Government House and Governor’s Office at the state secretariat”.
He said, “This case must be prosecuted. The petition should not beone-sided. If you can’t paste it, come tomorrow for another order. How
should somebody evade or run away from being served and why should the security officials refuse to cooperate with the tribunal’s bailiff to serve the governor”.
However, there was a mild drama, when the lead counsel of the APC, Mr. Kunle Adegoke, raised the issue of a petition filed by his clients against the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ambrusa, at the National Judicial Commission over his propriety to preside over the proceedings.
According to him, “There is a serious issue of propriety of yourLordship in being the head of this tribunal. There are certainfundamental issues that must be addressed in the petition against you at the NJC. If a party is expressing lack of confidence in a judge, the requirement is that such judge should step aside from handling the case”.
Responding, the chairman of the tribunal said: “I am ready to stepdown. I didn’t put myself here. Anybody can accuse anybody. I have not seen the copy of the petition against me. There should be decorum. Since you have written the NJC, I would be served a copy. By law, it is only the NJC that can act on your application”.
Another member of the 3-man election tribunal faced the APC counsel and said, “You are pushing the chairman to disqualify himself. This is a panel duly constituted. Why can’t you wait for the NJC to act? If we disqualify ourselves, what would happen to the petition you filed?
‘PDP’ll be Allowed to Paste Petition Notice’
Earlier in his submission, one of the lawyers in the legal team of the APC, Barrister Wale Afolabi, who is also the state Commissioner for Justice, assured that the PDP would be allowed to paste the petition, saying, “if they want to paste the petition notice, they can paste it. Nobody would disallow them”.
APC then prayed the tribunal to set aside the order earlier grantedfor the inspection of election materials at the INEC. The Tribunal
could not rule on the prayer of APC on Thursday before it adjourned.
On Friday, the tribunal struck out the prayer of APC seeking thevacation of order on the inspection of election materials at the INEC
Delivering his ruling, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ambrusa said, “We have carefully considered the addresses of both counsel and concluded that the order granted was in line with Section 151 of the Electoral Act”.
According to him, “to avoid delay with the consideration of exhibit B, it is apparent that the 1st section of the first schedule can be
utilised and employed. We are satisfied that the order was grantedunambiguously and in line with the provision of law as contained inElectoral Act 2010”.
However, both counsels including Adegoke and Mr Albert Abiodun Adeogun, who led the PDP’s legal teams expressed satisfaction withthe ruling and commended the tribunal for the detailed and explicitjudgment.
Counsel to the two parties had engaged in serious clash at the Osogbo office of INEC over
issues ranging from video recording to controlling crowd of supporters of the two parties who were hell bent on witnessing theinspection by the lawyers at the INEC office on Tuesday.
Policemen and security agents at the entrance of the INEC office haddifficulty controlling the crowd who thronged the INEC office located
along Gbogan/Ibadan road to catch a glimpse of the inspection.
The security agents insisted that only few of them could be allowed to come into the premises.
Apart from the issue of large crowd of party supporters at the INECoffice, activities were slowed down as APC’s counsel, Mr. DaudAkinloye, insisted that the order obtained from the tribunal for theinspection of the election materials should be produced and that’Exhibit A’ listed should be produced.
He said that the order would guide whatever activities the two parties would carry out. This led to an altercation between Akinloye and Omisore’s counsel, Mr. Kehinde Adesiyan.
Akinloye also insisted that PDP counsel should not be allowed to make photocopies of the election materials and this also resulted in
another hot argument that almost resulted in physical combat.
The lawyers rained abuses on each other and even stood up to eachother in which they almost exchanged blows but the Head of Operations
of the INEC, Mr. Azeez Olatunji and INEC lawyer, Mr. Wuyeb Ishaku,intervened and calmed the roaring lawyers.
The INEC lawyer, who read the tribunal order to the two partiesexplained that the commission would make voter registers, ballotpapers and all result sheets available for inspection but Akinloyesaid INEC must produce ‘Exhibit A’ which was contained in the order.
The inspection was disrupted on Wednesday as APC and PDP counselclashed during the inspection at the INEC office. The exercise was halted over a disagreement between counsel to PDP, Kehinde Adesiyan and the counsel to APC, Mr. Daud Akinloye, over the issue of video recording of activities during the inspection.
While APC counsel insisted that the inspection must be recorded, PDP counsel maintained that the video would be used mischievously on Osun State owned-television station in favour of APC.
In an attempt to resolve the matter, INEC offered to do the videorecording and give the videotape to interested parties but APCcounsel rejected the offer, saying such video recording by INEC may be doctored or edited.
The two lawyers again stood up to each other and it took theintervention of security men who prevented them from exchanging blows.
The incident grounded the inspection activities to a halt and theycould not continue.
Speaking on the decision of his clients to do the video recording of the inspection, Akinloye said it was part of strategy to prevent PDP from voiding the ballot papers on the pretext of the inspection.
But Adesiyan lamented that the APC was deliberating slowing down theprocess to waste time. “The APC lawyers were deliberating wasting time because they want to slow us down and prevent us from progressing”.