Drama in Ondo as Akeredolu accuses Election Tribunal of impropriety

The panel challenged the ACN governorship candidate to petition the National Judicial Commission

A mild drama ensued at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ondo State on Tuesday as the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, governorship candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu, accused the panel members led by Andoveer Kaka’an of not recording correctly.

The altercation occurred when Benson Aluta, the Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko’s witness from Ward One, Unit 10, Ondo East Local Government Area, was being cross examined by one of Mr. Akeredolu’s counsel, Lasun Sanusi.

Mr. Aluta had told the tribunal, when he was being led in evidence by Mr. Mimiko’s counsel, Abayomi Akanmode, and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that the election was generally peaceful, with proper accreditation of voters and that voting was carried out without any form of protest and harassment.

However, side-talk from Mr. Akeredolu and his team of lawyers when it was their turn to cross-examine the witness attracted the attention of the panel members.

Displeased by the comments from Mr. Akeredolu’s angle, Mr. Kaka’an said, “This tribunal will not entertain any side-talk. We are here for a serious business and we need to conduct ourselves properly before this tribunal as honourable members of our honourable profession.”

Mr. Akeredolu hardly waited for the chairman to finish his statement when he stood up and admitted that he was the one that uttered the statement and not his lawyers.

“What I said was that the tribunal chairman did not record correctly, the statements of the witness. What was recorded was different from what the witness said.

“We are prepared to challenge this proceeding at a higher court because this is not the final court on this matter,” he said.

Responding swiftly, the tribunal chairman, who expressed disappointment over the action, stated that Mr. Akeredolu was questioning the integrity of the panel; and challenged the ACN governorship candidate to petition the National Judicial Council, NJC, if he was not satisfied with the conduct of the panel.

“As a senior member of the bar, you are free to petition the National Judicial Commission and ask for the dissolution of this tribunal. It will not be the first time that tribunals are dissolved.” Mr. Kaka’an said.

However, a senior counsel, John Baiyeshea, apologised to the tribunal on behalf of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.

He said, “We are embarrassed by Akeredolu’s action at this tribunal this morning. We do not expect this from a former Chairman of the NBA. He had acted as a politician and not as our former leader.

“We are hereby apologizing on behalf of Mr. Akeredolu and we urge your lordships to go ahead with your job without any form of distraction. God will give you the calmness to do your job with wisdom,” Mr. Baiyeshea said.

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