20 September 2018

Nigeria: Ekiti Election Petition Tribunal Relocates to Abuja

The Election Petition Tribunal hearing the dispute arising from the July 14 governorship election has shifted base to Abuja, the nation's capital.

The tribunal chaired by Justice Sulaiman Belgore had on Monday ordered the relocation of its sitting from Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, owing to insecurity at the Ekiti State High Court, the former venue.

The action followed alleged violence by some party members at the inaugural sitting which put the lives of lawyers, litigants and court workers in jeopardy.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, are challenging the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, before the three-man jury.

Lawyers to all parties at the tribunal demanded the change of venue to Abuja but the panel in its ruling promised to communicate a new venue to them within 48 hours.

Counsel to Fayemi, Chief Rafiu Balogun and Ekiti PDP Legal Adviser, Mr. Sunday Olowolafe, confirmed the change of venue in a telephone chat Wednesday.

The hearing notice communicating the change of venue to Abuja yesterday which was signed by the Tribunal Secretary revealed the relocation.

Although the date on the hearing notice read September 24, a member of the Tribunal Secretariat who asked not to be quoted said pre-hearing will commence on Tuesday, September 25.

The statement reads in part: "Take notice that the above-named petition is slated for pre-hearing and will be heard at High Court No 17, Apo FCT High Court, Abuja, before Shoprite Apo, FCT Abuja on Monday, September 24, 2018 at the hour of 9.00 am forenoon or soon thereafter on such other day as the Tribunal may determine."

Balogun had disclosed that the change of the date of commencement of pre-hearing might have been necessitated by the fact that it falls on the day of the opening of a new legal year and swearing-in of the new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).

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