Lawyers to the parties before the Ekiti State Election Petition Tribunal have expressed concern over their safety.
At the resumed sitting of the three-member panel on Monday, the lawyers urged the tribunal to shift its father 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.
This was amidst allegations by some People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members that they were attacked by All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters outside the court complex.
Two House of Assembly members, Dayo Akinleye and Samuel Omotoso alleged that they were assaulted by people they described as “APC thugs” who massed under the flyover directly opposite the court premises.
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.”
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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.”
The tribunal rose for one hour with the panel chairman, Justice Suleiman Belgore, saying that ruling will be delivered on the oral application by lawyers to parties when the judges emerge from their chambers.