Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal filed by former Ekiti State governor, Segun Oni, challenging the eligibility of Governor Kayode Fayemi to stand as a candidate in the July 14, 2018 governorship election.
In a unanimous judgement by the apex court, Justice Amirul Sanusi dismissed the case on the grounds that it has become statute barred and a mere academic exercise.
In the verdict, the court held that Oni’s suit was caught up by Section 285 (9) of the 1999 Constitution (4th Alteration 2017), which makes it mandatory that all pre-election cases must be filed within 14 days.
Justice Sanusi said from the available record at the disposal of the court, the appellant’s case (Oni) was filed 42 days after the cause of action arose, thereby, making the suit legally incompetent to be adjudicated upon.
Oni, who was a governorship aspirant in the last primary election conducted by the All Progressives Congress for the nomination of the party’s candidate, had sued Fayemi, praying for an order disqualifying him (Fayemi) from participating in the last governorship election in the state.
The grouse of Oni was that Fayemi did not resign as minister of solid mineral three months before the election as required by law.
Oni also predicated his case on the report of a commission of inquiry set up by Ekiti State government under former governor Ayodele Fayose, which indicated and prohibited Fayemi from holding public office for a period of 10 years.
However, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, presided over by Justice Oathman Musa, had, in a judgement, quashed the report of the commission on the grounds that Fayemi was denied fair hearing during the proceedings.
But, Justice Sanusi upheld the preliminary objection raised against the appeal of Oni that the suit has no life in it, having been filed outside the 14 days required by law to be competent.
In his reaction, Fayemi’s counsel, Rafiu Balogun, commended the apex court for the ability to do justice to the issue within the time frame allowed by law.
The counsel expressed optimism that his client (Fayemi) will now have sufficient time to concentrate on governance and meet the expectations of the people of Ekiti State, adding that with the suit finally concluded there is no victor, no vanquished.