Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti
The Court of Appeal sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital on Tuesday dismissed the case filed by former governor Segun Oni against Governor Kayode Fayemi, contesting his eligibility as the candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the July 14, 2018 governorship election.
According to the three -man appeal panel presided over by Justice Adamu Juaro, in a unanimous verdict, said Fayemi not resigning as the then Minister of Steel and Mines Development to contest the May 12, 2019 governorship primary , where he emerged as candidate was not enough to disqualify him.
Other Justices of the appeal panel are: Justices Emmanuel Agim and Abubakar Lamido
The Appeal court in a judgement delivered by Justice Agim, held that Fayemi’s indictment by Justice Silas Oyewole led judicial panel of inquiry set up by former governor Ayodele Fayose to try the governor for alleged embezzlement was not suffice to bar him from participating in the election.
The Justices said only a conviction by a competent court of law can bar any aspirant from participating in a primary or general election and not a mere indictment by a panel .
The federal high court, had in a judgement delivered by Justice Uche Agomoh last year dismissed the case for lack of merit, after which the former governor appealed the case.
Oni’s lawyer, Chief Tony Adeniyi, urged the court to determine whether the lower court didn’t commit infraction to have ruled that Fayemi, by virtue of being a Minister was not obligated to resign in line with Article 2 of the 2014 guidelines of the APC , which provided that every intending aspirant must resign 30 days to the primary.
Oni also told the court that Fayemi as a public servant must comply with this provision and he again contended that the governor having been indicted by a judicial panel of inquiry was not eligible to participate in the party’s primary.
But Fayemi, through his lawyer, Raheem Balogun, countered the position canvassed by Oni, saying Fayemi was not a public servant and was not obliged to comply with article 2 of the guideline.
He also added that the panel of inquiry that indicted Fayemi was not a court of competent jurisdiction and lacks the power to bar any aspirant from contesting an election.
In its judgement, the court, however, agreed that a Minister is a public servant as claimed by the appellant, saying the position is an office in the public service of the federation.
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