The Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta on Monday commenced hearing of the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu, against Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress.
Both the APC and the PDP had mobilised their members to be at the tribunal for solidarity.
However, suspected hoodlums have besieged the tribunal as thugs numbering over 100 were seen with sticks and other harmful objects to allegedly scare opposition party members from accessing the court premises.
It was observed that the heavy security presence at the court as early as 7am did not deter the thugs as they were seen having a free day and beating up perceived opposition members from the court.
It was gathered that journalists were not spared as they were almost beaten up but for the timely intervention of a known party stalwart who informed the thugs of their identity.
Although the road leading to the court was barricaded at both ends by the police, it did not prevent the hoodlums from attacking their targets.
As the political thugs roamed about with canes in their hands, the police made no attempt to arrest or stop them from causing chaos.
A policeman said, “There is nothing we can do, we can’t arrest them. Everything about Ogun is always different.”
A PDP member, who was attacked by the thugs, said he lost his phone, money and other valuables in his possession while being beaten.
Consequently, members of the PDP fled the court premises to avoid further attacks.
Meanwhile, the PDP has condemned, in very strong terms, the violent attack on its members, including a notable leader of the PDP in Ogun State, Otunba Segun Sowunmi, journalists and other Nigerians on Monday by thugs mobilized by the All Progressives Congress to disrupt the proceedings of the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said the attack by the APC was aimed at instilling fear, disrupting the proceedings of the Tribunal, creating a siege mentality on the people and the judiciary so as to truncate the delivery of justice in the petition filed by the PDP governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu, against the governorship election in favour of the APC candidate, Governor Dapo Abiodun.
“Information available to the PDP indicates that the hoodlums were mobilized by APC leaders who are in mortal fear that the APC’s manipulations and rigging in the Ogun State Governorship election will be exposed at the Tribunal.
“The attack by the APC is a direct assault on the institution of the Judiciary, the Election Tribunal and a serious threat to the sustenance of democracy in our country.
“Our party is distressed that the attack by the APC on our leaders and members, journalists and other innocent Nigerians reportedly occurred in the full glare of police operatives and other security agents, who were said to have made no attempt to arrest or stop the APC hoodlums from unleashing violence at the Tribunal. Such a scenario is an indictment on Nigeria’s security authorities which requires urgent attention,” Ologunagba stated.
He therefore called on the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Department of State Services to direct an immediate investigation into the security lapses that might have paved way for such an unchecked attack on the institution of the judiciary and other innocent Nigerians at the premises of the Electoral Tribunal.
“Our party, standing with the people of Ogun State, demands that those behind the attack must be tracked down and brought to book immediately especially as there is ample evidence from video recordings of this shameful and dastardly action by the APC sponsored hoodlums.
“The PDP however states that the people of Ogun State and the PDP will never be deterred or cowed by the APC to give up the legitimate and constitutional pursuit for the recovery of the mandate freely given to our party and governorship candidate in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu, and nothing will change that resolve.
“Our party also calls on all our members, supporters and people of Ogun State to remain calm but at alert and ready to use every means within the ambit of the law to resist the APC in its plots to disrupt the Tribunal and subvert the course of justice in the matter,” the PDP scribe noted.
The Ogun State governorship tribunal is expected to determine among other things the true winner of the March 18 governorship election, of which the incumbent Dapo Abiodun was declared winner but is being challenged by the People’s Democratic Party candidate, Ladi Adebutu.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had announced that Abiodun polled 276,298 to defeat his closest rivals Ladi Adebutu of the PDP who scored 262,383 as well as Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress who got 94,754 votes.
Thereafter, Adebutu asked the tribunal to direct INEC to conduct fresh elections in 99 polling units in 41 wards and 16 of the 20 local government areas of the state.
He also alleged that elections were either not held or cancelled in some polling units due to disruption of the exercise and over-voting.