Governor Kayode Fayemi
The Supreme Court yesterday adjourned till March 5 hearing in an application filed by former governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni, to set aside an Appeal Court judgment which removed him from office and declared Kayode Fayemi as the elected governor.
Oni is challenging his removal on the grounds that the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, who constituted and presided over the panel wrote the judgment of the Appeal Court that sacked him from office had close affinity with Senator Bola Tinubu, the alter ego of Fayemi’s party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Oni’s argument is that Salami was biased and favoured ACN in the judgment and that such judgment should be set aside on the ground of bias.
When the matter came up yesterday, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, who presided observed that the Independent National Electoral Commission was not served with the hearing notice.
Chief Joe Kyari-Gadzama, (SAN) who appeared for Oni, told the court that INEC was a nominal party but deserved to be heard in the interest of fair hearing.
He, however, begged the court to grant a short adjournment because of the nature of the case.
Justice Mukthar consequently adjourned the case to March 5 being the earliest available date.
In the brief settled on behalf of Oni by Professor, Ben Nwabueze (SAN), he argued that bias constituted a proper ground for setting aside a judgment.
He said: “Bias or likelihood of it makes a decision a nullity and is therefore a sufficient ground for the lower court to set aside its own judgment.”
However, in a preliminary objection, Fayemi through his lawyer, Mr Olusola Baiyashea (SAN) said the Supreme Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
He said: “This honourable court has no jurisdiction to entertain this appeal, being an appeal emanating from the decision of the court below in governorship election petition of Ekiti State arising from the governorship election of 2007 to which Section 246 (3) of the 1999 Constitution is applicable.”
He also said that there was no valid appeal before the court.