Pandemonium broke out on Tuesday at the Ogun State Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta, as suspected thugs flogged politicians who had converged on the court’s premises.
The attackers, who were armed with canes and other weapons, descended on some notable party chieftains.
Those flogged include supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, including a former Chairman of Yewa North Local Government, Olusoji Eweje, Sesan Orelaja, and a former women leader of the Labour Party, Mrs. Omolola Soyombo.
The state PDP chairman, Bayo Dayo, and the National Auditor of the party, Alhaji Wole Adeyanju, were said to have narrowly escaped being whipped by the hoodlums.
The free-for-all began shortly after the chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Henry Olusiyi, reserved judgment in the case, in which the governorship candidate of the PDP, Prince Gboyega Isiaka, is challenging the election which returned Senator Ibikunle Amosun of the All Progressives Congress as the state governor for the second time.
Lawyers, other party faithful and journalists had to wait inside the courtroom because the court premises had been turned into a battlefield. The security operatives were overwhelmed by the hoodlums until they called for a reinforcement.
Consequently, more security operatives including men of the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Police led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bello Makwashi, stormed the tribunal to rescue the situation which persisted for more than one hour.
Earlier, counsel for all the parties had adopted their final written addresses and were allowed to address the court while respondents also replied on point of law.
The counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission, Olusina Sofola (SAN), urged the court to strike out all grounds of the petition except two, saying the grounds violated Section 138 of the Electoral Act and were as such incompetent.
Sofola told the court that the reliefs sought in the substantive petition were inconsistent and that the only option for the court “is to throw out the whole petition.”
The counsel for the 2nd respondent, George Oyeniyi, who also prayed the court to dismiss the evidence of PW9 (Benjamin Ibikunle) for being an interested party, argued that the petitioners had abandoned their reliefs.
Oyeniyi described the case as hopeless.
The counsel for the 1st respondent, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), also said what the petitioners were attempting to do was to amend the substantive petition through the back door.
The petitioners had requested the court to cancel the election results in nine local councils and declare Isiaka the winner of the April 11, 2015 governorship poll or order for another election in those contentious local councils.
Meanwhile, the Director of Publicity of Gboyega Isiaka Campaign Organisation, Ifekayode Akinbode, has accused the APC supporters of masterminding the attack on the PDP leaders and supporters, describing it as “barbaric and senseless.”
But the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Sola Lawal, refuted this claim, stressing that the party “is discipline and has respect for the rule of law and individual, so it is not right to accuse it of using thugs to unleash terror on anyone.”