Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Reprieve came for Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State yesterday, as the Ado Ekiti Division of the Federal High Court dismissed the suit filed by a former governor of the state, Chief Segun Oni, challenging his eligibility to contest the July 14, 2018 governorship poll.
Oni was challenging the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to field Fayemi as its candidate despite not resigning his position as minister 30 days to the May 26 primary election of the party.
Oni, who was an aspirant in the election, is challenging Fayemi’s eligibility on the grounds that the governor did not resign his appointment as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 30 days before the party primaries .
He also said Fayemi was not fit to contest having been indicted for financial impropriety by Justice Silas Oyewole-led Commission of Inquiry.
The commission of inquiry was set up by former Governor Ayodele Fayose to probe the finances of the state government when Fayemi was governor of the state between 2010 and 2014.
Among others, Oni, through his counsel, Chief Anthony Adeniyi, prayed the court to void the votes cast for Fayemi for refusing to resign and the indictment.
He also wants to the court to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Fayemi, and declare him (Oni) as duly nominated APC candidate and the duly elected governor in the July 14 election.
But Fayemi, though his lawyer, Chief Rafiu Balogun, urged the court to strike out Oni’s suit for lack of merit.
The governor averred that he was not a civil servant or an official of APC, hence the resignation clause was not binding just as he added an Abuja court had quashed the decision of the commission of inquiry.
The case, which had earlier commenced at an Abuja Division of Federal High Court, was transferred to Ado Ekiti last week.
Justice Uche Agomoh, while ruling on the suit yesterday, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit, saying: “I am of the firm view that the originating summon is hereby dismissed”
Agomoh, who resolved the issues for determination in favour of Fayemi, said the governor could not be disqualified on the basis of the report of the Commission of Inquiry whereby an Abuja court had quashed the indictment.
The judge said: “Indictment does not satisfy the definition of conviction. He cannot be disqualified”.
Agomoh also said: “The issue of 30 days resignation before election does not apply in this case,” saying the applicant’s claim that Fayemi was an official of APC and a public servant could not be proved.
According to the judge, Fayemi, as a minister of the federation was not a public servant but a political office holder and appointee of the President, hence the 30 days resignation stipulation did not apply. Counsel to Oni in his response, said; “We are going to study this judgment to determine the next cause of action”.
In his response, lawyer to Fayemi described the judgment as wonderful, saying “the court agreed with the positions of
the law in arriving at the verdict”.