Fayemi wins again

THE dream of a former illegal occupant of the Ekiti State Government House to return to power collapsed yesterday at the Court of Appeal.

An application brought before the court sitting in Ado-Ekiti by Mr Segun Oni seeking a review of the judgment that ousted him from office was dismissed.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin on October 15, 2010, sacked Oni and returned Dr Kayode Fayemi as the validly elected governor. The five-member panel that presided on the case was led by Justice Isa Ayo Salami.

Justice Tijani Abdullahi chaired the panel on the new case. Other members are: Justices Musa Abba-Aji, M.O. Kekere-Ekun, Ismaya Mohammed and R.C. Agbo.

At the resumed hearing yesterday, Mr Ladi Williams (SAN) represented Oni and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Mr John Baiyeshea (SAN) appeared for Fayemi and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Oni, in his application filed on March 14, last year, sought an order setting aside the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal in Ilorin.

Besides, he pleaded that the President of the Court of Appeal be compelled to set up a new panel to start the case “de novo” (afresh).

The application further sought an order directing the Speaker of the House of Assembly to act as governor, pending the determination of the case.

Delivering court’s brief ruling on the case at about 3.25pm yesterday, Justice Abdullahi said the issues for determination were whether or not the court can set aside the judgment and order a fresh trial and whether it had jurisdiction to entertain the case.

Describing the application as lacking in merit, Justice Abdullahi dismissed it, saying: “If there is any case of bias, Oni and PDP ought to have raised their objection against it at the trial Appeal Court in Ilorin.’’

He said  the court could only reverse itself,  if it was  misled to deliver a ruling, if a judgment was  given in the absence of jurisdiction, if the case was  a nullity or obnoxious and  if the court was  misled to accept certain facts or evidence.

Baiyeshea and the State Chairman of the ACN, Chief Jide Awe, lauded the judgment. Williams said his client would head for the Supreme Court.

When the judgment was delivered, members of the ACN, who were within the vicinity of the court, immediately burst into a huge celebration.

The court’s premises became charged. State Security Service (SSS) personnel and policemen cordoned off the Basiri-Fajuyi road where the court is located.

Teargas canisters were fired to disperse the crowd.

Before the court session, some ACN members had converged on the Fajuyi Park Roundabout. Members of the PDP were at the Basiri end of the court’s premises.

Policemen and SSS operatives led by the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olayinka Balogun and the SSS Director, Mr Samuel Tamuno, stationed their men in-between the supporters of the parties to forestall a breakdown of law and order.

More than 20 police trucks and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) were stationed at the court’s gate.

Fayemi hailed the verdict, describing it as victory for common sense and the rule of law.

The Governor, who was attending a meeting with officials of the World Bank in Abuja during the court’s sitting, said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Yinka Oyebode, that he was happy that reason and common sense prevailed in the case, which “ordinarily ought not to have come before the Lord Justices in the first place”.

Fayemi, who lauded the conduct of the justices, however said it was high time the judiciary put in place a mechanism that “will prevent the likes of jobless busy-bodies like Oni and his cohorts in the Peoples Democratic Party from dragging the judiciary in the mud with frivolous petitions”.

The Governor said his administration had since inception laid emphasis on reconciliation as a virile tool for peace, but noted that it was apparent that some elements within the state, owing to their self-centredness and desperation, are unwilling to two the path of reconciliation.

The statement reads: “We welcome the decision of the justices of the Appeal Court. It is victory for commonsense and the rule of law. But that case ought not to have come before the Lord Justices in the first place, but we thank the Justices for not allowing the judiciary to be dragged in the mud.

“But it is important for the judiciary to also put in place mechanism that would guard against deliberate attempts by some people to drag its image in the mud.

“Our administration places much emphasis on reconciliation as a virile tool for peaceful co-existence, but it is apparent some people are unwilling to embrace reconciliation.

“This administration remains focused in its efforts to ensure a rapid development of Ekiti State and to liberate the people from poverty and nothing can distract us.”

Oni said he would appeal the judgment. In a statement by his spokesman, Lere Olayinka, Oni said:

“The basis for the dismissal of the case was that we should have raised the issue before the Court of Appeal judgment of October 15, 2010.

“However, in the grounds we raised in our application, we stated that the facts which necessitated the application were not known to us until after the October 15, 2010 judgment. How then could we have raised issues that were not known to us?

“Therefore, since we have the right of appeal, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we have resolved to appeal the judgment of today at the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. Any moment from now, our Notice of Appeal will be filed.

“Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially in Ekiti State, should therefore not despair because we are confident that God will use our case to set a landmark precedence in the history of the Nigeria Judiciary.

“We also wish to commend the judiciary for at least giving us the opportunity to be heard, as against the wish of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and its functionaries, who never believed that rights of Nigerians to seek redress on any matter in Court, and duty of the Court to hear the matter must be respected.”




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