Proceedings at the ongoing Ogun State Elections Petitions Tribunal in Abeokuta, Ogun State was on Wednesday adjourned till Monday over allegations of threat to the lives of witnesses of the petitioner, Adekunle Akinlade.
Akinlade, who was the governorship candidate of the Allied People’s Movement, had challenged the victory of Dapo Abiodun, the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in the March 9 election in the state.
After cross examination and re-examination of three witnesses called by Sebastine Hon, the Lead Counsel to Akinlade, the lawyer said he could not proceed with the case.
Hon said many of the witnesses had complained to him that they had received various threat messages and that they were no longer willing to testify at the tribunal.
The counsel said his team had more than 100 witnesses but that he could not go further as he was only able to secure the attendance of three on Wednesday because of the development.
He added that the police personnel attached to his client, Akinlade, had also been withdrawn.
Hon, who said he had filed an application concerning the issue, prayed the court to grant adjournment till Monday to enable his team re-consider the development and take appropriate steps.
Lead Counsel to the defendant, Dele Adeshina (SAN), opposed the request, saying the grounds upon which the adjournment was sought was unacceptable.
Adeshina argued that proceedings at the tribunal had since been peaceful, open and transparent and that the names and addresses of the witnesses were not made public.
According to him, his client, Abiodun, is a peace loving person who cannot hurt a fly.
The lawyer, who noted that the tribunal had a fixed period of 180 days to sit, argued that it could not afford adjournments over flimsy excuses.
Counsel to the APC, Habib Ajayi, who also opposed the request, noted that there had not been any report of threat to lives over the case in the media.
Ajayi argued that the prayer was a ploy by the counsel to the plaintiff to delay proceedings because of non-availability of witnesses.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Yusuf Halilu, however, granted the prayer of Hon, saying that “the issue of threat to life is a serious matter”.
He urged the counsel to jointly meet with the state Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, and intimate him about the development with a view to resolving the matter.
Halilu thereafter adjourned the case till Monday.