February 12, 2019

ELIGIBILITY CASE: Fayemi floors Oni

By Rotimi Ojomoyela

ADO-EKITI—THE Court of Appeal sitting in Ado-Ekiti, yesterday, dismissed the case filed by former Deputy National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Segun Oni over the eligibility of Governor Kayode Fayemi as the candidate of the party in the July 14, 2018 governorship election in the state.

The Appeal Court, in an unanimous judgment, said Fayemi needed not resign as then Minister of Steel and Mines Development to contest the May 12, 2018  APC governorship primary , where he  emerged as candidate.

The three-man Appeal panel presided over by Justice Adamu   Juaro, also held that Fayemi was only compelled to resign 30 days to the election which he did.

Other Justices on the Appeal panel are: Justices Emmanuel Agim and Abubakar Lamido .

On the White Paper,  Justice Agim who read the judgement said that Fayemi’s indictment  by Justice Silas Oyewole led judicial panel of inquiry set up by former governor Ayodele Fayose to try the governor for alleged  embezzlement, was not enough to bar him from participating in the election.

The Justices said only a competent court of law can convict or bar any aspirant   from participating in a primary or general election   and not a mere indictment by a panel .

Agim said: “We have considered the positions of all the parties regarding who is a public servant.  Section 277 of the 1999 constitution explained who is a public servant and a Minister being an office in the service,   is a public servant.

“But the 1st respondent (Fayemi) was not an employee since he was hired and confirmed by the Senate to perform a specific task in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development. It is not every public servant that is an employee in the civil service.”

On the issue of 2018 primary, the Court said: “The 30 days recommended by law for any public servant to resign is not applicable in this case, because the 1st respondent is not an employee of government and he can be removed anytime by his principal.”

In the case of his indictment by a judicial panel, the court said: “Indictment is not a conviction. Only a competent court of law can bar anyone from participating in an election.

“The judicial panel that indicted him is not a court of competent jurisdiction. It is just a fact finding body.”