The Osun state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday staged a peaceful protest on the premises of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo over the reported disbandment of the panel.
A chieftain of the party, Mr Niyi Owolade, told newsmen at the premises of the tribunal in Osogbo that the party was surprised by the the development.
Owolade, a former Attorney-General of the state, said they were taken aback on Thursday morning when officials of the tribunal informed them that the tribunal had been disbanded.
He said that the reason for the disbandment had yet to be ascertained and it was not known when a new panel would be constituted.
Mr Muhammed Adamu, the Secretary to the tribunal, confirmed the disbandment of the panel to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He, however, said that he was not aware of the reason for the action.
“It is true that the election tribunal has been disbanded but the reason for the disbandment was not communicated to me,” Adamu said.
Owolade explained that PDP on Tuesday filed a petition challenging the outcome of the September governorship poll in the state.
He said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Governor-elect, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, and All Progressives Congress (APC) were joined as respondents.
He said that while INEC had been served, Oyetola and his party allegedly declined service, hence their application for substituted service.
According to him, “The application would have been heard this morning (Thursday) but we were surprised when we heard that the panel had been disbanded.
“What is even more surprising is that they disbanded a panel without a replacement.
“We all know that election petition matters are sui jeneris, our 180 days started counting from 16th October, and Section 285, Sub-section 6 of the 1999 Constitution is clear on that.
“By the 180 days duration, final judgement on this matter is to be delivered on or before April 15, 2019, and time is of essence.
“We are surprised that the President of Appeal Court, who is saddled with the responsibility of constituting election tribunals, has not deemed it fit to put in place a new panel,” Owolade said.
The PDP stalwart therefore demanded an immediate constitution of the panel to continue with the petition without further delay.
He advised that there should not be any delay in constituting an election panel, adding that the people were anxiously yawning for justice.
He said: “We are presently in limbo because time is of essence, we want a new panel to be put in place immediately to continue the process.
“We are appealing to the President of the Appeal Court to do the needful”.
The venue of the tribunal was locked and the court officials told journalists that “there will be no sitting” but no reason was given.