The Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, yesterday dismissed the suit filed by former Governor Segun Oni challenging the eligibility of Governor Kayode Fayemi to contest the July 14 governorship election.
Delivering judgment, Justice Uche Agomoh held that Oni’s originating summons challenging Fayemi’s eligibility to stand as the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate is “completely lacking in merit”.
Defendants in the suit are: Fayemi (first), APC (second) and Independent National Electoral Commission (third).
The suit started at the Federal High Court, Abuja, but was later referred to the Ado-Ekiti Division of the court.
The court held that Fayemi was eligible to contest, though he was a sitting Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, because he was not in the category of public officers envisaged by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the APC Election Guidelines to resign from office before contesting.
The court further ruled that Fayemi was qualified to run, having been validly nominated as the flag bearer by his party, the APC, for the primary conducted on May 12.
Fayemi won the primary with 941 votes to defeat Oni, who garnered 481 votes and 32 other candidates.
Filing the suit on June 21, Oni averred that Fayemi was not qualified to contest for the governorship poll, claiming that he did not resign as Minister of Mines and Steel Development 30 days before the APC primary.
He also said Fayemi was not eligible by virtue of his indictment by the Justice Silas Oyewole-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry empanelled by former Governor Ayodele Fayose.
Justice Agomoh held that Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which defines who is a public officer, was not applicable to Fayemi as a serving minister.
The judge held that the provision did not refer to the Office of the Minister of the Federal Republic, adding that Oni also failed to provide the court with evidence that Fayemi did not resign from office, as he claimed in his (Oni’s) originating summons.
She held that Fayemi was not in the category of officers of the party (APC) who must resign before contesting for an elective public officer, as Oni claimed.
The judge refused to grant Oni’s prayer that Fayemi be declared ineligible to run for governor on the basis of his purported indictment by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Fayose administration.
The judge held that her court did not have the legal right to sit on an appeal of a matter that had been determined by a court of coordinate jurisdiction, as the case had been dismissed by a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
Justice Agomoh said: “There must be evidence that he was served and called upon to defend himself. Looking at all evidences before me filed by parties therein, I am not satisfied that this condition was met in this case.”