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The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed Ayodele Fayose as the duly elected governor of Ekiti State in the June 21, 2014 election.
In a unanimous decision by the seven-man panel led by Justice John Fabiyi, the apex court upheld the earlier decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Ekiti State Governorship Election Tribunal, which had both earlier ruled that the petition challenging Fayose’s victory lacked merit.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, the apex court dismissed all the grounds of appeal filed by the petitioner – the All Progressives Congress – and resolved all four issues arising from the appeal against the party.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared that Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party polled 203,090 votes to defeat the then incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, of the All Progressives Congress who polled 120,433 votes in the election.
Dissatisfied by the results declared by the INEC, the APC had filed a petition, urging the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which sat in Abuja to nullify the election.
The petitioner had anchored its case on the grounds of alleged irregularities, intimidation of its leaders by the military, ineligibility of Fayose to stand for the election and allegation that the PDP candidate forged his Higher National Diploma certificate presented to INEC.
The Justice Siraju-Mohammed-led tribunal had, in its verdict delivered on December 19, 2014, dismissed the petition for lacking merit. The Justice Abdul Aboki-led five-man panel on April 15, 2015 affirmed the decision of the tribunal.
But the APC further appealed to the Supreme having been dissatisfied with the Court of Appeal’s decision.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment on Tuesday, held that none of the grounds of appeal was proved by the appellant.
It held that while impeachment was not a ground of disqualification from contesting as governor under section 182 of Nigeria’s constitution, the panel which recommended Fayose for impeachment on October 16, 2006, was illegally and unconstitutionally constituted.
It also held that the allegation of certificate forgery had been caught by the principle of “issue estoppel” as it had been laid to rest since 2004 by the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the case of Alliance for Democracy.
According to the apex court, the Court of Appeal had, in the said judgment, held that the HND certificate was genuinely earned by and awarded to Fayose.
On the issue of militarisation and harassment of leaders of the APC, the Supreme Court held that the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector-General of Police, joined as 4th and 5th defendants in the case were not necessary parties.
The apex court held that the actions of the men and officers of the two defendants that allegedly harassed the APC leaders during the election and whose names were not mentioned could also not be answerable for by the INEC as stipulated by the Electoral Act.
There was anxiety in Ekiti State as the Supreme Court in Abuja prepared to deliver judgment on Tuesday (today) in the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress against the victory of Governor Ayodele Fayose in the June 21, 2014 governorship election.
Fayose, in a state-wide broadcast on Monday, asked residents to maintain the peace and go about their lawful duties.
The governor, who thanked the people for voting overwhelmingly for all the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidates in the Saturday House of Assembly elections, said the victory had confirmed that he had a genuine mandate of the people.
He said that he was sure that he would be vindicated at the end of the day and triumph over whatever plot being hatched to truncate his tenure.
A commercial driver, Ade Bamidele, expressed confidence that the governor would win the case.
A trader, Esther Orji, said the Ekiti people required peace, saying the judgment would remove the tension associated with the election.
The Ekiti Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal had on December 19, 2014 upheld Fayose’s victory and dismissed the APC petition for lack of merit.
Dissatisfied, the APC had gone to the appellate court on the grounds that Fayose was not qualified to stand for the election as a candidate because of his impeachment on October 16, 2006 during his first tenure as governor.
The APC also alleged that the governor forged his academic certificates and violated the Code of Conduct rules.
The five- member panel, chaired by Justice Abdul Aboki, in its judgment on February 16 had upheld the judgment of the Tribunal, which affirmed Fayose as the winner of the June 21, 2014 poll.
Though the Justice Abdul Aboki-led five-man panel dismissed the appeal filed by the APC, it found merit in the appellant’s complaints that the military was used to harass and intimidate its supporters and leaders during the polls.
Dissatisfied still, the APC had gone to the Supreme Court.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared that Fayose polled 203,090 votes to defeat the then incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, of the All Progressives Congress, who polled 120,433 votes in the election.