GOVERNOR Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, yesterday, engaged in verbal war over the shooting and attack of party members at the inaugural sitting of the Election Petition Tribunal in Akure.
Jegede had filed a petition against the electoral victory of Governor Akeredolu, who was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the October 10 election.
At the inaugural sitting of the tribunal, the PDP accused the governor of mobilizing thugs to the Tribunal venue to harass and attack its supporters and members.
Vanguard gathered that thugs, suspected to be members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, stormed the venue of the tribunal.
A supporter of one of the parties was reportedly stabbed for gaining entrance into the Tribunal.
However, the PDP Publicity Secretary, Kennedy Peretti, in a statement, accused the governor of “mobilizing a large number of thugs to the venue of Ondo Gubernatorial Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Akure, Ondo State.
Peter said: “At the hearing on Tuesday, 8th December 2020, APC thugs, under the leadership of one Chemical, bombarded the venue, harassing, molesting, beating up and shooting sporadically into the air and attacking anyone perceived to be a supporter of the PDP and its candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN.
“Mr. Sunday Oladunmoye is still receiving treatment from machete cuts he sustained from this group of thugs.
“They were parading the vicinity of the Court in a tinted Toyota Corolla car. Others were members of the Taxi Unit of National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, with instructions from their master, one Idaho, to cause pandemonium during the sitting.
“As early as 8.30 a.m, the Petitioners, Mr. Jegede, and the PDP represented by its Chairman, Alhaji Fatai Adams led other PDP leaders to the Court.
“But shortly thereafter, the APC thugs caused panic and confusion within the arena. It took the combined efforts of the Army and Policemen to restore order.
“The PDP wishes to call on security agencies to live up to this fresh threat to law and order in the State. Resorting to violence will not deter the PDP and its candidate from pursuing this Petition to its conclusive end. Neither can this act of barbarism scare the Judges from the course of justice.”
We have no reason to indulge thugs —APC
But in its defense, Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alex Kalejaye, said Governor Akeredolu and the party have no reason to indulge thugs.
Kalejaye said: “Contrary to the unreasonable desperation of the PDP to smear the image of APC in Ondo State, and its candidate, Mr. Akeredolu, the ruling party has no reason to mobilize thugs to the venue of the governorship tribunal, sitting in Akure.
“The APC in Ondo State parades unequaled disposition to peaceful conducts and approaches to issues, and therefore would not promote nor condone thuggery for whatever gains.
“Like other stakeholders in the election petition tribunal, APC stalwarts, in their most decent and dignified manners arrived early today at the court, to listen to the proceedings.
“We learned, with dismay avoidable rowdiness among people that were struggling to enter the court premises. To the best of our knowledge, the desperation gave room for the clash.
“We are of the strong opinion that political parties and other stakeholders should caution their sympathizers against unruly display throughout the legal process, rather than holding APC responsible for such indecent and aggressive attitude.
“We wish to affirm our confidence in the tribunal to dispense justice, and would therefore have no reason to encourage violent disposition, under whatever guise.”
Tribunal warns against making personal contact
Meanwhile, the Tribunal chairman, Justice Umar Abubakar warned counsels to both parties against making personal contact with its members.
Justice Abubakar said: “The petitions are time-bound.
“There should be no communication, be it official or private with any member of the Tribunal. All means of communication should be channeled through the Registrar; whatever relationship you have with any member before now, should not be exhibited throughout the sitting.”