ACN Dismantles the PDP at the Supreme Court

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The ACN yesterday brought to a complete halt the re-election aspirations of the Ekiti PDP aspirant Chief Segun Oni, as the Supreme Court comprising of a 5 man panel upheld the electoral victory of  Kayode Fayemi.

Oni had approached the Supreme Court, challenging the nullification of his election and the declaration of Governor Fayemi as the validly elected Governor in the 2007 and 2009 elections in EkitiState.

He had approached the supreme court to seek a review of the Court of Appeal’s judgement in Ilorin which ousted him from office on October 15, 2010.

He argued that the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, PCA, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, was not fit to preside over the Appeal Panel that sat in Ilorin and nullified his election, insisting that he had evidence  that Salami was engaged in an amourous convivial romance with a top member of the ACN.

He maintained that it was that relationship that eventually culminated to the favourable verdict that was handed to Fayemi.

Besides, Oni, through his legal team comprising four Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs and 38 lawyers, applied for a consequential order reinstating him as the Governor of the state by virtue of a judgment that was delivered by the gubernatorial election petition tribunal that sat in the state on May 5, 2010.

He further beseeched the apex court to in the alternative, okayed the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly to take over the reins of governance in the state pending the determination of the controversy trailing the Appeal Court verdict that brought Governor Fayemi to power.

It will be recalled that the appellate court dismissed Oni’s suit as lacking in merit, stressing that the reliefs he sought could not be granted.

Arguing through his lead counsel, Chief J.K Gadzama, SAN, Oni told the apex court that he only raised allegation of judicial bias after the appellate court delivered its judgment on October 15, 2010, saying it was then that he became aware of the relationship between Justice Salami and Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu who he described as “the alter-ego and financier of the ACN.”

He prayed the apex court to determine “whether denial of fair hearing to the appellant and the issue of bias is not enough ground to set aside the decision of the lower court,” contending that “bias or likelihood of it rendered the decision of the appellate court a nullity.”

According to him, “my lords, nobody filed an appeal against the appellate court judgment of October 15, 2010, because we were not unaware of section 246(1) and 246(3) of the Constitution which at that time provided that such electoral dispute must terminate at the Appeal Court.

“Our motion for setting aside the judgment of the appeal court was not a matter arising from the election but from radical dimension of judicial bias. The Appeal Court cannot claim to have finality on the matter except where its proceeding was validly conducted. There is no finality when the proceeding is seen as wishy-washy. The ordinary man ought to see that justice has been done.

“I urge this court to allow this appeal, set aside the ruling of the court of appeal delivered on February 27, 2012, and the judgment of October 15, 2010 which we had earlier sought to set aside at the lower court .

“I pray for a consequential order of this court reinstating the 1st appellant as Governor of Ekiti State by virtue of tribunal judgment delivered on May 5, 2010.  In the alternative, the Speaker can come in pending the determination of the issues so as to overcome the problem of vacuum  in governance.

“If this is done, legal history will be made by this court. More so, section 22 of the Supreme Court Act empowers this court to assume jurisdiction of the Appeal Court and do substantial justice in this matter,” Oni argued.

Nevertheless, Fayemi, through his lead counsel, Mr John Bayisha, SAN, maintained that the apex court lacked the jurisdiction by virtue of section 246(2) of the Constitution to entertain the suit, stressing that as at the time the cause of action arose, the appeal court had final say of such gubernatorial electoral dispute.

He told the court that sequel to a petition that was written to the National Judicial Council, NJC, by Oni, the appeal court panel, on March 29, 2011, adjourned the proceeding before it sine-die, noting that it was not until February 27, 2012 that the matter resumed after an investigative panel that was set up by the Council to investigate allegations raised by Oni, exonerated both Justice Salami and other members of his panel.

“NJC sat on the matter and cleared all the justices. My Lords, even two Justices who participated in the matter have been elevated to this Court. This case is an abnormality. I urge this court to dismiss it as frivolous and grossly lacking in merit.”

Likewise, counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mr Ibrahim K. Bawa, urged the apex court to dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction, just as the Inspector General Of Police who was also joined in the suit, through his counsel Mr Femi Atte, told the court that he deliberately chose not to file any brief in the matter, saying he would prefer to take a neutral position.

While upholding Fayemi’s arguments, the apex court panel, led by

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta held that the issue at stake was not whether the Court of Appeal violated Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended but whether the apex court has jurisdiction to entertain the appeal brought by Chief Oni as raised by the 1st and 2nd respondents in their preliminary objection.
“This court has consistently refused to violate a provision of the constitution of the land; the Supreme Court does not hunger for jurisdiction and therefore, the appeal has been struck out and we abide by the consequential orders contained in the lead judgement of the lower court”, Justice Ngwuta added.

More so, the court held that Section 246 (3) of the Constitution gave the Court of Appeal the “toga of finality” in election petition issues that have to do with Governorship and Legislative Houses.
“Section 246 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended says the decisions of the Court of Appeal in respect of appeals arising from the National and State House of Assembly election petitions shall be final.”

Likewise, the apex court noted that from the genesis of the matter, the ultimate aim was to return Oni as the elected governor of Ekiti state but “the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal because being an election petition matter, it terminates at the Court of Appeal.”

Meanwhile, Governor Fayemi who reacted to the judgement at the Ekiti State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, yesterday “I had no issue with Oni going on an appeal but my problem is the deliberate ploy to take the judiciary on a wild goose chase knowing well that his appeal was an abuse of court process, frivolous and unwarranted, such case was right from the onset doomed to be thrown into the judicial dustbin of infamy.”


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