The three-man tribunal chairman said nobody should liase on their behalf.
The Ondo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has begun its sitting in Akure, the state capital, with a warning that nobody should liaise on behalf of the judges for any reason.
The Chairman of the Tribunal, A. Kaka’ An, who issued the warning at the inaugural sitting, said by virtue of the Section 285 (6) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, members of the tribunal are to determine the five petitions filed on the October 20 election within 180 days.
Mr. Kaka’An, who led two other judges of the tribunal, H.S. Mohammed and Kadi Alkali, said the tribunal would deal with any person who tried to compromise the work of the panel according to the dictates of the law.
“As judges, we took oath to discharge our duties and perform our function, honestly to the best of our ability and faithfully in accordance with the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and the law.
“Let it be understood loud and clear that anybody who holds himself out as our liaison is on his own. We shall not send anyone to anybody for any reason whatsoever in connection with the hearing of these petitions and nobody should send anyone to us.
“All transactions with this tribunal shall only be officially carried out and through the same medium,” the chairman declared.
Mimiko denies evading service
Meanwhile, there were allegations and counter-allegations of evasion of service of petition between two petitioners and the state governor, Olusegun Mimiko.
While the counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peoples Democratic Change (PDC), Yinka Orokoto said the governor had been evading service, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Eyitayo Jegede, denied the allegation.
Mr. Orokoto had come to the tribunal with four exparte applications, seeking to serve the processes of the Tribunal to the governor through substituted means since the governor was not available to personally take delivery of the petition.
The Chairman having read the applications, affidavit in support of the motion, and the written addresses granted the application.
He said the petitions could be served on the governor through the Attorney General, Office of the Secretary to the State Government, or any adult in the office of the governor.
However, Mr. Jegede said the governor had not been evading service as claimed by the counsel to the petitioners.
The justice commissioner, who said he was in court to take the substituted service on behalf of the governor, said the law provided for substituted service, but that the petitioners were only interested in undertaking personal service on the governor.
Collecting the document, Mr. Jegede said it would be difficult to reach the governor for personal service because of his schedule of duties.
He said since he had taken delivery on behalf of the governor, the petition would be dealt with on time.