The Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital has denied granting the request of the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Olufemi Ajadi Oguntoyinbo to change the party’s counsel in its petition filed at the Tribunal.
Recall that, some sections of the media had on Friday reported that, the Tribunal had granted the request of Oguntoyinbo asking the party’s counsel, Peter Ogah (Esq) of the Law Firm of Peter Ogah & Partners to step down from the case.
The party had filed a petition before the Tribunal, challenging the victory of governor Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Saturday, March 18 election.
The NNPP’s legal team led by Barrister Peter Ogah, in the election petition with suit number; EPT/OG/GOV/01/2023 dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, Governor Abiodun, and his party, All Progressives Congress before the Tribunal over an alleged omission of the NNPP’s name on the ballot papers used for the governorship and assembly elections held in the state.
The team of legal luminaries assembled by Ogun NNPP earlier filed a Motion Ex parte seeking an order of the court to move the motion before the pre-hearing session of the tribunal.
The party also prayed the court to direct INEC to grant the party access to inspect, photocopy, scan, pay for, and obtain certified true copies of all the documents used in the conduct of the governorship election held on March 18, 2023.
Three Judges of the election tribunal, granted NNPP’s request to inspect, photocopy, scan and record all sensitive materials used by INEC.
The three judges namely; Justice Arum Igyem Ashom, Justice Eno Ikpi Ebri, and Justice Khadi Ibrahim Ya’u unanimously agreed in their ruling on the exparte motion brought by the counsels of NNPP to allow the party inspects the INEC’s materials.
However, Oguntoyinbo in a motion dated, Tuesday April 11, sought an order of the court to appoint another counsel, Isaac Dale Izunya of Izunya Izunya & Co to take over the case from Peter Ogah (Esq) of the Law Firm of Peter Ogah & Partners.
But, speaking on the motion, The Secretary of the Tribunal, Ezenta Obioma said, the Tribunal was yet to commence proceedings on the petitions received.
Although, Ezenta said, a party had filed a motion requesting a change of counsel, “but the Tribunal has not decided on the motion yet”.
Asked when the Tribunal would commence sitting, the Secretary of the Tribunal said, “We are still at the filing stage, so I cannot tell you precisely when the Tribunal is going to commence sitting.”
The Chairman of NNPP, Oginni Olaposi also denied that the party had changed its counsel, saying Peter Ogah remained the lawyer appointed by the State Executive Council of the party to pursue its case at the Tribunal.
“I want to confirm to you that, the Ogun State NNPP has not and will never change our counsel who has been doing a very good job for us at the Tribunal.
“He (Ogah) has done the right thing by filing our petition at the appropriate time, so we have a petition that is alive and kicking, filed by Peter Ogah, the counsel approved by the State Executive Council and the Chairman of Ogun State, Comrade Oginni Olaposi Sunday.
“The only petition of NNPP at the Ogun 2023 Governorship Tribunal is deposed of an affidavit by my humble self and therefore there is nobody else that has a power to replace our counsel”, Oginni said.
It was however gathered that the party leadership led by Oginni was the one financing the present legal battle.
Findings revealed that Oginni-led executive paid for the petition fee of one million naira.
A document obtained by our correspondent also showed that the Oginni-led executive paid security deposit for the purpose of service for the petition.