The Court of Appeal has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the election of Ayo Fayose as the governor of Ekiti State in the June 21, 2014 governorship election in the state.
The Justice Abdu Aboki five-man panel, which sat in Ado-Ekiti for about three hours on Monday, adjourned for judgment after listening to counsel to all the parties in the appeal.
The Peoples Democratic Party (1st respondent), Fayose (2nd), the Independent National Electoral Commission (3rd), the Chief of Army Staff (4th) and the Inspector General of Police (5th) are the respondents in the suit.
In the appeal, filed on January 23 this year, the APC is challenging the election of Fayose on the grounds that he was not qualified to stand as a candidate in the election going by his impeachment from office on October 16, 2006 during his first tenure as governor of the state.
The governor was also accused of forgery of academic certificates and violation of Code of Conduct Rules.
The Ekiti State Elections Petitions Tribunal had on December 19, 2014 upheld Fayose’s election and dismissed the APC’s petition.
Counsel to the APC, Hakeem Afolabi (SAN), adopted and relied on all briefs filed on behalf of the Appellants (APC) in the proceedings, urging the court to allow the appeal and grant all the reliefs sought by the appellants.
Afolabi drew the attention of the court to the striking out of paragraphs 110-120 and 125a of the petition by the tribunal.
The paragraphs border on the qualification of the 2nd Respondent (Fayose).
The APC counsel argued that the reason given by the tribunal cannot be accommodated under Section 138 (a) of the Electoral Act.
Afolabi insisted that there was no time limit to raise an issue that borders on qualification of a candidate.
Afolabi further contended that the decision of the tribunal was taken suo moto and that the right to fair hearing of the Appellants was breached.
“I urge your lordships to allow the appeal and grant the reliefs in our petition,” Afolabi submitted.
Counsel to the PDP, Robert Emukpoeruo, while opposing Afolabi’s submission, argued that not only did the tribunal strike out the paragraphs in contention, it also considered the merit of the complaints of the appellants.
Fayose’s counsel, Yusuf Ali (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the APC’s appeal.
Ali argued that the constitution of the panel that recommended Fayose’s impeachment violated constitutional provisions in that it was not set up by either a Chief Judge or an Acting Chief Judge, citing Nwakama v Abaribe 2010 All Federation Weekly Law Report pt 505 1767 at 1789-1790 para f-e.
The SAN also told the panel that the petitioner who lost in the 16 local government areas only called 11 witnesses, six of which came from Ado-Ekiti alone and did not call witnesses in other 10 LGAs.
Ali urged the Court to dismiss the appeal for lacking merit.
After listening to lawyers to all parties, panel chair, Justice Aboki, reserved judgment in the appeal.