The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has upheld the victory of Ayodele Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the Ekiti state governorship election held in June 21, 2014.
The appellate court upheld the judgment of the election tribunal which had earlier dismissed the petition written by the All Progressive Congress (APC) challenging Fayose’s victory.
However, the appeal court made a definite pronouncement on the role of the military in an election saying that the military ought not have been deployed for the election.
The court stated that by the provisions of the law, the military had no role to play in electoral process adding that whoever had deployed the military to Ekiti for the elections had breached the law.
In affirming the decision of the tribunal, the court dismissed the appeal brought by the APC.
The tribunal had on December 19, 2014 upheld Fayose’s election.
Not satisfied, APC had approached the appellate court to challenge the decision of the tribunal.
In its appeal, APC submitted that the tribunal erred when it dismissed the ground challenging the forgery of certificate by Fayose.
It also challenged the decision of the tribunal which striking out the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army as parties in the petition.
APC challenged the tribunal’s decision which denied jurisdiction to pronounce whether the army has a role to play in an election or not.
In a two hour judgement delivered by a full panel of the Court of Appeal headed by Justice Abdul Aboki, the court held that the appellants did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the certificate of the respondent issued by the Polytechnic Ibadan was forged.
The court noted that the issuing institution which was the Polytechnic Ibadan had forwaded a letter stating that the certificate in contention was issued by it.
The court further noted that the appellants failed to provide an evidence before the court to show that the certificate was forged.
It was on that premise that the court dismissed the ground of appeal.
On the issue of striking out the names of Chief of Army Staff and Nigerian Army from the petition by the tribunal, the court held that the tribunal was right as such office and establishment were not recognised under law to be involved in electoral process.
The court noted that the struck out parties were not necessary parties and as such their non joinder in the tribunal would not produce adverse effect on the appellant.
It also held that the military as far as the election was concerned could be categorised as agents of INEC.
The court, nevertheless upheld the decision of the tribunal, striking out the names of the Chief of Army Staff and Nigerian Army as parties in the petition.
The court also did not object to the decision of the tribunal refusing jurisdiction to determine whether the military had a role to play in an electoral process.
“We have looked carefully into this appeal, no merit in the appeal and it is hereby dismissed. The judgement of the Tribunal delivered on December 19, 2014 succeeds”, the court held.
In the cross appeal, brought by PDP and Fayose on whether APC could file a petition before the tribunal without its governorship candidate, the court held in the affirmative.
Justice Aboki held that the candidate was not a necessary party in the petition on ground that it was the party that sponsored a candidate.
Also on whether an impeachment could qualify as a ground for disqualification in an election, the court held that there was no way an impeachment could constitute a ground for disqualification.