BY SUSAN EDEH
Bauchi—A section of the Bauchi State Election Petitions Tribunal building was yesterday gutted by a mysterious fire.
The incident which caused panic in the state, started shortly before the inaugural sitting of the tribunal.
Eye-witnesses said everybody was seated waiting for the presiding judge when people saw smoke from the Plaster of Paris, that was used for the ceiling, thus forcing those in the hall to scamper for safety.
Court officials and other security operatives used fire extinguishers to bring the fire under control, it, however, caused substantial damage to the building.
A witness told Vanguard that ‘’the incident is mysterious because there was no electricity in the building or area at the time the smoke started coming out.
However, a senior official of the tribunal said the ‘’place where the fire started has a link with the electric generator room from where power was being supplied to the building, adding that the problem might be from the generator.
Speaking during the inaugural sitting, the Chairman of the Tribunal Justice David Monn, advised counsel and other tribunal officials to cooperate with the judges to enable them succeed in their assignment.
Meanwhile, tribunal chairman, Justice Monn, has adjourned further sitting of the tribunal to June 28, when the applications would be heard.
In their separate remarks Counsel to both parties, pledged their support and cooperation to the tribunal and advised the tribunal to ensure adequate security during its sittings.
They also urged the tribunal to apply for experts from the Police Bomb Disposal unit and Military personnel as well as disallow people who do not have any business to enter during the sittings of the tribunal as a way of protecting lives and properties of both the court officials and litigants.
The Registrar of the Bauchi State High Court, Aliyu Baba Usman pledged to provide adequate security during the tribunal sitting.
Later,Counsel to Yusuf Tuggar, Congress for Progressive Change,CPC, gubernatorial candidate in the last election filed an application asking the tribunal to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,to allow access to all electoral materials.