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Kunle Somorin: Ogun Tribunal: The Day After the Verdict



By Hannah Nathan, Warri.

Saturday, September 30, 2023, was a day like no other in the political calendar of Ogun State. Although it was the day the State Governorship Election Tribunal delivered its verdict on the petition of Oladipupo Adebutu and the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) against the reelection of Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the events following it symbolically brought the metaphor of the spring season in the political geography of the state.

If the spring season signifies renewal and hope and serves as a reminder that after every hardship comes ease, mirroring the resilience inherent in nature and man, that transition was given expression in Ogun State soon after. It unfolded dramatically with the unanimous ruling of the three-member tribunal led by Justice Hamidu Kunaza that struck out the petition because it was “incompetent, defective, disjunctive and lack merits.”

For close to 12 hours that the judgement took to read, furtive, forced smiles and furrow glances danced across the courtroom and joined streets of Oke Yeke, Isabo, Kuto up till Naiwair-Ud-Deen – almost 5-kilometre square in estimation and with partisan interests across the state. The palpable, eerie atmosphere was like the peace of the graveyard.

It reminded many of a similar scenario and pronouncement at the same venue four years earlier when the then panel of the 2019 guber, Justice Yusuf Halilu described the petition brought by Hon Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) against Prince Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as “lazy, fictitious, malicious, and mischievous,” and ending with another sinisterly unkind cut: “The petition is destined to fail, fails and is hereby dismissed.”

Coincidentally, Akinlade, then the candidate of the APM ran on the PDP ticket alongside Hon. Adebutu in the March 18 election. Last Saturday, the Kunaza panel found no merit in the mountain of documents presented in over 200 Ghana-must-go bags and claims by petitioners that thugs, whom they associated with the APC, disrupted the election in over 99 polling units, thus allegedly stopping over 40,000 voters from voting or having their votes counted. It further said the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of non-compliance, over-voting, disenfranchisement of voters and corrupt practices during the polls.

However, contrary to reports that party faithful might engage themselves in violent attacks, the combined security forces, comprising men of the Nigeria Police Force, led by CP Abiodun Alamutu, the Department of State Security Service (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and others mounted sentry, took charge of security at the premises of the Chief Magistrate Court, Isabo, and its immediate environs to avert a descent to chaos or a contrived scene painted at the beginning of the trials by PDP chieftain, Segun Sowunmi, who alleged being rough-handled.

.The state of mind upon the arrival of the judgment was that of balance, tension and vulnerability as the party dependably processed around the court premises. The assumption was that their ideological group would be triumphant by the day’s end. As sunset set, the mindset, following a few hours of delay, changed to that of celebrating and festival as the yell of wild celebration leased the air in the APC camp. When Equity Kunaza wrapped up perusing his judgment, all PDP allies were mysteriously absent; they had briskly left the court premises.

With that, the larger part has had its direction while the minority expressed their opinion.

Expectedly, PDP and Adebutu said they are setting out toward the re-appraising court. They are prefacing their case on what they estimated was the judgment of the council in light of “details”. Whether the Court of Allure or even the High Court would turn around the decision of the Court of First Occasion is not yet clear. However, other resistance groups under the aegis of the Between Party Warning Committee in the State said the case is done for at the higher courts.

Tending to a question and answer session in Abeokuta on Tuesday, IPAC’s State Director, Engr. Samson Okusanya depicted the articulation credited to PDP after the judgment, which undermined the decision, as meek and out of raunchy obliviousness from political traders:

“Ladi Adebutu and his group of attorneys should have realized that regulation and realities are given but rather on reasonableness and objectivity of the legitimate cycle which specifies that the applicant should have frontloaded certain data in the request. We recognize the legal executive and in particular individuals from the Council driven by Equity Hamidu Kunaza for a wonderful piece of handiwork.
“The PDP and her up-and-comer ought to as an issue of significance, cease his arranged pointless pursuit at the investigative Court and acknowledge the desire of God,” he gathered for the other party administrators, consequently affirming that everything except PDP had submitted.

For Gov. Abiodun is by all accounts acquiring grounds with its comprehensive administration model since other resistance components inside the APC-crease that briefly surrendered help for the African Majority rule Congress, ADC, up-and-comer, Biyi Otegbeye got back to promise dependability to the lead representative. The gathering driven by its past administrator, Boss Derin Adebiyi, got back to the standard party, leaving previous Lead representative Ibikunle Amosun in the political Siberia of the state.

He noticed that the approval of the order by the council just implied the revalidation of his three-sided arrangement and the common agreement between himself, the great individuals of Ogun State and God. The mammoth horde of government workers that invited him after his triumph at the Council affirmed their fortitude with the helmsman. Offering thanks, Abiodun enthused that the legal executive was firm, fair and straightforward in judgment certified his triumph.