The Chairman, Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Justice Chinwe Onyeabor has dismissed fear of being threatened or pressurized by anybody to delay justice in their favour.
Justice Onyeabor made the declaration on Wednesday while responding to the INEC’s counsel, Opeyemi Adeyemi plead for extension of time to study and address the petition marked EPT/OG/GOV/02/2019 filed by the factional Secretary of Labour Party in Ogun State, Oginni Olaposi against the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Abdulganiy Raji and INEC as 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.
The INEC’s counsel argued that, he was just briefed about the service motion yesterday, hence, he would need short time to address the petition accordingly.
In his reaction, counsel to Labour Party, Barr. Monday Mawah prayed the court to proceed the motion of hearing since there was evidence of serving the 3rd and 4th respondents was recorded by the tribunal.
Mawah pleaded the tribunal not to entertain “any minute delay”, noting that, the tribunal is having a short term of six months for the determination of the petition, describing the INEC’s counsel argument as delay tactics and abuse of court process.
Similarly, the counsel to the petitioner, Kehinde Ayanwale urged the court to give all parties fair hearing as the petitioner in EPT/OG/GOV/02/2019 was ready to move their motion on appeal notice.
But in her response, the Tribunal Chairman declared that, the tribunal will not entertain any submission that are not validated.
She said since the 3rd and 4th respondents (REC and INEC) were duly served the petition on April 4, and they were subsequently represented by a counsel, Chioma Nwokocha on the same matter on Monday, whomever they choose to represent them in another sitting is the internal problem of the respondents.
“You cannot intimidate, pressurize us or cow us. The tribunal will not be allowed to be cowed by anybody. Let nobody entertain the idea that anybody can pressurize us or intimidate us.
“We refuse to entertain any pressure from anybody. We are not here to entertain any pressure, we are from different jurisdiction, we cannot be bought or controlled by anyone, we are here to discharge our duties without any fear of mind.”
“Ours is to give opportunities to the respondents, and it is in their own interests to use the opportunity judicially.
We are not here to entertain any submission that are not validated.
“You were served early enough to address your motion, but it is your internal matter for whatever reasons to choose whoever appear in court. We have noted your issue that you were served and you have seven days to address your motion.”
Meanwhile, the Counsel to the 2nd respondent, All Progressive Congress (APC), Deji Eniseyin prayed the tribunal to grant seven days to address their petition properly.
Justice Chinwe Onyeabor responded to all counsel
She said order of serving was made to Prince Dapo Abiodun on the 12th of April through a newspaper publications (Tribune and Punch) dated 16th of April 2019.
She adjourned the case till 8th May, 2019 for further hearing.