Ekiti Election: Court Dismisses Suit Seeking to Bar Fayemi

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Alex Enumah in Abuja
An Abuja High Court sitting in Bwari, has dismissed a suit seeking to bar the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in the Ekiti State Governorship election slated for July 14.
The Court also quashed Fayemi’s indictment for fraud, abuse of office and the 10 years ban from holding public office imposed on him by the Ekiti State Government.

Delivering judgement yesterday in the suit filed by the Action Peoples Party (APP), the presiding judge, Justice Oathman Musa, dismissed the suit on the grounds that it was frivolous, baseless and without merit.

The APP, in the suit instituted against Fayemi, APC and the state government had argued among others, that Fayemi’s indictment by a commission of inquiry, set up by the Ekiti state government to probe his administration, and the white paper issued by the state based on the indictment, disqualified Fayemi from holding public office by virtue of Section 182(1)(i) of the Constitution.

But the judge quashed the purported indictment by the commission of inquiry and the white paper on the grounds that the process leading to the report and white paper was tainted with bias as Fayemi was not accorded fair hearing.

In dismissing the suit, the court held that Section 182(1)(i) of the Constitution, on which the suit was based, was no longer in existence having been deleted in 2011 by the National Assembly through the first alteration of the 1999 Constitution and as such, no Nigerian citizen can be disqualified from the section.

Justice Musa who answered the two questions posed by the plaintiff in the negative, refused all its prayers and declared that Fayemi was eligible to contest the next governorship election and that the APC was at liberty, under the law to field him as its candidate.
Besides, the judge said that by virtue of several Supreme Court decisions, mere indictment and white paper are mere administrative decisions and cannot be used to disqualify any citizen from holding public office.

The Abuja high court further held that citizens can only be indicted by court of law after fair trial, adding that even if the white paper and the section 182 were not deleted, the process leading to the commission of enquiry report was tainted with bias because there was no evidence that Fayemi was invited as an accused person to defend himself from the corruption charges by the tribunal.

The judge held that from the available evidence, Fayemi a former governor of Ekiti State, was invited as a witness to assist the tribunal with information and that the tribunal set aside the objection raised by Fayemi but did not go further to issue another invitation to him to appear as an accused person as required by law.