The Federal High Court in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, on Monday dismissed the suit filed by former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni challenging the eligibility of Kayode Fayemi, to contest the July 14 governorship election in the state.
Oni is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who contested the governorship primary with Fayemi. He came second in the primary.
Delivering the judgment of the court, Justice Uche Agomoh held that Oni’s originating summons challenging Fayemi’s eligibility to stand as the APC governorship candidate is “completely lacking merit.”
Defendants in the case are Fayemi (1st), APC (2nd) and Independent National Electoral Commission (3rd).
The suit commenced at the Federal High Court, Abuja but was later referred to the Ado-Ekiti Division of the Court.
The court held Fayemi was eligible to contest as a sitting Minister because he was not in the category of public officers envisaged by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the APC Election Guidelines to resign from office before contesting.
It further ruled that Fayemi was qualified to run having been validly nominated as the flag bearer by his party, the APC from the primary conducted on 12th May, 2018.
Fayemi won the primary polling 941 votes to defeat Oni who garnered 481 votes and 32 other candidates.
In filing the suit on June 21, 2018, Oni averred that Fayemi was not qualified to contest claiming that he did not resign from office as Minister of Mines and Steel Development 30 days before the APC primary election.
Oni also said Fayemi was not eligible by virtue of his indictment by the Justice Silas Oyewole-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry empanelled by former Governor Ayo Fayose.
But Justice Agomoh held that Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which defines who is a public officer, was not applicable to Fayemi as a serving Minister.
The Judge held that the provision did not refer to the Office of the
Minister of the Federal Republic, adding that Oni also failed provide the court with evidence that Fayemi did not resign from office as he claimed in his (Oni’s) Originating Summons.
She further held that Fayemi is not in the category of officers of the party (APC) that must resign before contesting for an elective public officer as claimed by Oni.
Justice Agomoh refused to grant Oni’s prayer that Fayemi be declared as ineligible to run for governor on the basis of his purported indictment by the Justice Silas Oyewole-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Ayo Fayose administration.
The Judge held that her court does not have the legal right to sit on appeal of a case that had been determined by a court of coordinate jurisdiction as the case had been dismissed by a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
“There must be evidence that he was served and called upon to defend himself.
“Looking at all evidences before me filed by parties therein, I am not satisfied that this condition was met in this case.
“I am therefore of the view that there is no condition recognizable by law on the basis of which the first defendant can be disqualified from contesting the primary of the second defendant held on the 5th and 12th of May, 2018 and I so hold.”
The court disagreed with Oni that Fayemi was a member of 14 organs of the party, including National Convention, Board of Trustees, National Caucus and Zonal Committee.