Jubilations broke out in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Monday as the Ado Ekiti Division of the Federal High Court dismissed the suit filed by former Governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni, to challenge the eligibility of Governor Kayode Fayemi to contest in the July 14 governorship election in the state.
Fayemi’s supporters and well wishers gathered at the pavilion and Fajuyi Park to celebrate the court victory amid drumming and dancing.
Oni, who was an All Progressives Congress aspirant in the election, in the suit, challenged Fayemi’s eligibility on the grounds that the governor did not resign his appointment as a minister 30 days before the party primaries and as well that he was indicted by the Justice Silas Oyewole-led commission of inquiry last year.
The commission of inquiry was set up by the 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 in the primaries for refusing to resign and the indictment, withdraw the certificate of return issued to Fayemi, declaring Oni as duly nominated APC candidate and as well duly elected governor in the July 14 election.
But Fayemi, though his lawyer, Chief Rafiu Balogun, who urged the court to strike out Oni’s suit for lack of merit, said Fayemi was not a public servant nor an official of the APC hence the resignation clause was not binding just as he said an Abuja court had quashed the decision of the commission of inquiry.
The case, which had earlier begun at an Abuja Division of Federal High Court was transferred to Ado Ekiti last month.
Security was beefed up in the court area as no fewer than 17 police pick up vans were stationed around the court in addition to an armour personnel carrier stationed at the pavilion area.
Justice Uche Agomoh, while delivering her two-hour judgment on Monday, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit, saying, “I am of the firm view that the originating summons 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 satisy 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 the 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 an 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.”
APC Deputy State Chairman, Sola Elesin, described the judgment as “a victory for our party. Our candidate, who is now governor, is one of the best in the country. He won the election fair and square.”