By Bolanle Lawal
A Federal High Court in Ado-Ekiti on Monday dismissed the suit filed by a former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni, challenging the eligibility of Gov. Kayode Fayemi to contest the July 14 governorship election in the state.
Oni, an All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirant in the primary election, had challenged Fayemi’s eligibility on the grounds that the governor did not resign his appointment as Minister 30 days before the party ’s primary.
He also claimed that Fayemi was indicted by the Justice Silas Oyewole-led commission of inquiry.
The commission of inquiry was set up by former Gov. Ayodele Fayose to probe the finances of the state government when he was governor of the state between 2010 and 2014.
Oni, through his counsel, Chief Anthony Adeniyi, also prayed the court to void the votes cast for Fayemi for refusing to resign and for the indictment.
He further urged the court to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Fayemi and declare him as the duly nominated APC candidate and as well as duly elected governor in the July 14 election.
But Fayemi, though his lawyer, Chief Rafiu Balogun, urged the court to strike out Oni’s suit for lack of merit, saying he was not a civil servant nor an official of the APC.
He argued that the resignation clause was not binding while an Abuja court had quashed the decision of the commission of inquiry.
The case, which earlier began at an Abuja Division of Federal High Court, was transferred to Ado Ekiti last week.
Justice Uche Agomoh, while ruling on the suit on Monday, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit, saying “I am of the firm view that the originating summon 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 after an Abuja court had quashed the indictment.
The judge said: “Indictment does not satisfy the definition of conviction. He cannot be disqualified.’’
“The issue of 30 days resignation before an election does not apply in this case,” the judge also said, stating that the applicant’s claim that Fayemi was an official of APC and a public servant could not be proved.
According to the judge, Fayemi, as a minister, was not a public servant but a political office holder and appointee of the president.
Reacting to the judgment, the counsel to Oni said; “We are going to study this judgment to determine the next course of action.”
But Fayemi’s lawyer described the judgement as wonderful, saying “the court agreed with the position of the law in arriving at the verdict.’’