…My victory, an opportunity to move Ekiti forward — Gov
…Says he has no grudge against Segun Oni
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Rotimi Ojomoyela
ABUJA—THE Supreme Court, yesterday, declined to sack Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State from office on the premise that he was not eligible to contest the July 14, 2018, governorship election that he eventually won.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgment by a five-man panel of Justices, dismissed the suit that was lodged by a former governor of the state, Mr. Segun Oni, who lost the governorship primary of the All Progressive Congress, APC, to Fayemi.
Oni who came second in the primary election, had among other things, contended that Fayemi was not legally qualified to take part in the contest having failed to firstly resign his position in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet.
Fayemi won the party’s primary poll on May 12, 2018 at a time he was the Minister of Mines and Steel Development.
He officially resigned the position on May 30, 2018, about 18 days after he had secured the APC governorship ticket with a total of 941 votes as against 481 votes that was polled by his closest rival, Oni.
However, in the suit filed shortly after the primary election, Oni argued that constitutionally, Fayemi, ought to have relinquished his ministerial position, at least 30 days to the primary poll.
He urged the court to, among other things; determine whether or not Fayemi’s action was not in gross violation of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as APC Guidelines.
Besides, he argued that Fayemi was previously indicted by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry that was constituted by the former Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
The Panel’s White Paper which indicted Fayemi and banned him from holding public office for 10 years, was subsequently quashed by a Federal Capital Territory High Court at Bwari.
Aside Fayemi and APC, INEC was cited as Respondents in Oni’s suit.
Meanwhile, both the Federal High Court in Ekiti State and the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal dismissed Oni’s case.
Dissatisfied with decisions of the lower courts, the former governor took his case before the Supreme Court where he also lost yesterday.
In the judgement delivered by Justice Amiru Sanusi, the apex court held that the suit had become statute barred.
The court equally held that Oni’s suit was caught up by section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, which made it mandatory that all pre-election cases must be filed within 14 days after the issue in dispute occurred.
Justice Sanusi noted that from records before the Supreme Court, the appellant lodged his case 42 days after the cause of action arose, thereby making it legally incompetent to be adjudicated upon.
Consequently, the apex court dismissed the suit.
Oni had urged the court to determine, “Whether by virtue of All Progressives Congress constitution and particularly Articles 2 and 5 of All Progressives Congress 2014 Guidelines for the nomination of candidates for public office as applicable to the APC Governorship primaries conducted on the 12th May, 2018, the 1st Defendant being a serving member of the Federal Executive and Federal Minister of Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel Development having not resigned his appointment as a member of Federal Executive and Minister of Solid Mineral, Mines and Steel Development, at all or at least 30 days to the said primaries election of 12th May, 2018 was qualified to contest and participate in the said APC governorship primaries of 12th May, 2018 as an aspirant in that election.”
My victory an opportunity to move Ekiti forward — Fayemi
Meanwhile, Governor Fayemi has described his victory at the Supreme Court as an opportunity for the state to move forward without further encumbrances.
The governor said the apex court judgment has made it abundantly clear that he resigned in line with the constitutional provision and that the primaries of the party which produced him as APC governorship candidate in Ekiti State in 2018 was free, fair and credible.
Speaking at the swearing in of the new Head of Service, Mr Ayodeji Ajayi, shortly after the Supreme Court judgement, Fayemi said: “Ekiti must move forward, enough of these distractions. Enough of these recriminations, over matters, that ought not to go to court.”
The governor said: “It is clear that I resigned in accordance with the constitution of the land and that the shenanigans that culminated in the White Paper that said Fayemi should not serve in public office have been dealt with in the appropriate law courts as the trash that it was at the time.
“It also shows clearly that the primaries that took place in Ekiti for anyone who is objective enough, the cleanest, the fairest and most credible primaries that ever has taken place in the history of electioneering in Nigeria.”
Fayemi said: “Now that the highest court in the land has pronounced definitely on it, I hope he would see it as a cue to play a more active role in the party. Oni, to the best of my knowledge remains a member of APC. I believe he has not removed himself from the party. But I think this would not lead to another round of recriminations and attacks.”