In a notice of motion for joinder filed at the apex court by EK Ashiekaa SAN, Wali and PDP contended that having participated in the 2015 governorship election, and having scored the next highest number of votes cast after that of Tambuwal, they have sufficient grounds to be joined in the case.
Supreme Court Upholds Ayade’s Election
Also yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the nomination of Governor Ben Ayade by the PDP for the last April 2015 governorship election in Cross River State.
The court, in a unanimous judgment held that Ayade was validly nominated by his party PDP and consequently dismissed the appeal filed by Chief Joe Agi, SAN who was a governorship aspirant in the 2015 election also on the PDP platform.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, the court held that the allegation of forgery of age declaration levelled against Ayade by the Appellant was not proved beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.
The court said that the discrepancy in the two age declarations which bore March 2, 1968 and March 2, 1969 was not intended to cheat on Section 177 of the 1999 constitution, which put a mandatory age for a governorship candidate at 35.
The court said that from whatever angle, the two age declarations were looked at, the 3rd Respondent (Ayade) was either ten or eleven years over and above the mandatory age of 35 stipulated by section 177 of the 1999 constitution.
Justice Ogunbiyi noted that the appellant wrote to the police on the issue prompting the police to write the authority of the University of Ibadan to demand for the bio-data of the governor in their investigation on the criminal allegation leveled by the appellant.
Justice Ogunbiyi said that the turning round by the appellant that he did not make criminal allegation against the respondent could not hold water in the face of the petition he wrote to the Inspector General of Police.
The court therefore held that the appellant raised criminality against the governor and that he (appellant) failed to discharge the burden of proving the allegation beyond reasonable doubt as required by law because he did not lead any evidence that the age declaration was done to detriment of the 1999 constitution.
“The appellant in this case is saddled with the burden of proving which of the two age declarations allegedly made by the governor was right for forgery or falsification to be sustained. Forgery cannot be established in the absent of the original,” Justice Ogunbiyi said.
The court said, that the issue of membership of PDP raised by Agi against governor Ayade and the alleged failure to pay membership fee was an internal affairs of a political party which no court of law would enquire into.
Justice Ogundiyi said that it was a settled law that when the National Working Committee (NWC) of a party cleared an aspirant for a primary election, it was not the duty of a court to begin to enquire into that since it was a domestic affair of such a party.
Besides, the court also said that payment of party membership dues was not one of the conditions for nomination of a candidate as erroneously claimed by the appellant.
The court also said that the appellant having sworn on oath to abide with the decision of the PDP NWC on the nomination of candidate by the party could not turn around against the party with court action to jettison his earlier oath to abide with the party supremacy.
Says Sacking Council Chairmen, Councillors By Fayemi Was Illegal
Also yesterday the apex court, declared, as illegal the sacking of council chairmen and councillors by the then governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and ordered the the state government to pay the sum of N3.3 billion to the chairmen and councillors who were wrongfully relieved of their duties.
The former governor, now the Minister of Solid Minerals, had in 2010 during his assumption into office as governor relieved the appellants of their duties 15 months into the end of their tenures.
Fayemi then appointed caretaker committee into his government to carry out most of the functions that the local government chairmen and councillors would have done.
In a lead judgment read by Justice Chima Nweze, the Supreme Court held that the sacking the council chairmen was illegal and unconstitutional.
Justice Nweze ordered that the chairmen, who were unlawfully removed by the governor, be paid their salaries and other allowances for the period they were unlawfully removed from office.