The legal tussle for the Governorship of Ekiti State ended on Friday as the Supreme Court struck out the case instituted by the former Governor of Ekiti State, Engineer Olusegun Adebayo Oni against his successor, Dr John Olukayode Fayemi. The case was struck out by the court for lack of jurisdiction to entertain the matter. Seven justices were unanimous in the decision that the case should be struck out.
Reading the lead judgment, Justice Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta read through the commencement of the case which dated back to the Governorship election of 2007 as well as the judgment of the Election Petitions Tribunal and the Appeal Court case that followed.
He noted that the appellant based his case on 5 issues including issues bordering on bias. One of the appellant’s grounds of appeal was whether the issue of bias does not lead to the denial to fair hearing. The appellant would also want to know whether such situation is not a ground for the Court of Appeal to set aside its own judgment.
The Respondents had however argued that the court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the matter being a matter emanating from a court below it. The respondents also noted that the Court of Appeal is the final court in the determination of Governorship election matters. The respondents quoted from Section 246 of the 1999 Constitution.
The 6th and 7th respondents, that is the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had also made it clear that they relied on just one ground which was that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the appeal since it emanated from the judgment of a court below it.
Citing sections 243 and 246 (3) of the Constitution, Justice Ngwuta noted that “none of the cases relied on by the appellant referred to the case of this appeal”. He also noted that though the appellant wants the court to rely on Section 36 of the constitution, a court should not hunger for jurisdiction. “This court has no jurisdiction to entertain the matter”, he said. The appeal was therefore struck out. All the other justices including Justices Chukwuma-Eheh, Mukhtar Coomasie, Suleiman Galadima and Justice Stanley Alagoa all agreed with the lead judgment.
N. O. Oke, counsel to the appellant appreciated the justices for their decision. While speaking after the verdict, Dr Fayemi’s counsel stated that “the consistency of the court was tested and I thank the justices of the Supreme Court for maintaining that consistency”.