The indictment for fraud, abuse of office, and the 10 years ban placed on former minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, from holding public office by the Ekiti State government have been quashed by an Abuja High Court.
The Court dismissed a suit seeking to bar the All Progressives Congress (APC) from fielding Fayemi as its candidate in the Ekiti Governorship election slated for this month.
It is however not yet uhuru as an insider, an APC chieftain, Mr. Oladimeji Olakunle Olatunji, has approached another Federal High Court, Abuja seeking the disqualification Fayemi from contesting the race scheduled for July 14, just 11 days away.
In the suit No: FHC/ABJ/05/693/18 and dated July 2, 2018, with Fayemi, the APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively, Olatunji is seeking an order disqualifying the 1st defendant from contesting the governorship election for submitting false information to the 2nd and 3rd defendants as it relates to his non-resignation from the public service.
Justice Othman Musa, in a judgment Tuesday in Abuja, dismissed the suit instituted by the Action Peoples Party (APP) against Fayemi, APC and Ekiti State government on the ground that it was frivolous, baseless and without merit.
The party (APP) had argued among others, that Fayemi’s indictment by a commission of inquiry set up by the Ekiti state government to probe his administration, and the White Paper issued by the government based on the indictment, disqualified Fayemi from holding public office by virtue of Section 182(1)(i) of the Constitution.
Justice Musa quashed Fayemi’s purported indictment by commission of inquiry and the White Paper on the grounds that the process leading to the report and White Paper was tainted with bias as Fayemi was not accorded fair hearing.
The judge noted that Section 182(1)(i) of the Constitution, on which the suit was based, was no longer in existence having been deleted in 2011 by the National Assembly through the first alteration of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Musa who answered the two questions posed by the plaintiff in the negative, refused all its prayers and declared that Fayemi was eligible to contest the next Governorship election and that the APC was at liberty, under the law to field him as its candidate.
Besides, the judge said that by virtue of several Supreme Court decisions, mere indictment and white paper are mere administrative decisions and cannot be used to disqualify any citizen from holding public office.
The Abuja high court further held that citizens can only be indicted by court of laws after fair trial adding that even if the white paper and the section 182 was not deleted, the process leading to the commission of inquiry report was tainted with bias because there was no evidence that Fayemi was invited as an accused person to defend himself from the corruption charges by the tribunal.
Justice Musa held that despite the fact that Fayemi was not invited as a defendant, the commission of inquiry went ahead in an absurd, bias and tainted manner to indict him in gross violation of the right of the former governor to fair hearing as enshrined in the constitution.
The judge therefore quashed the purported indictment and the 10 years ban placed on Fayemi and declared that he (Fayemi) is constitutionally qualified to contest any election and hold any public office.
In the new suit, the APC chieftain Mr. Oladimeji Olakunle Olatunji, approached the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking the disqualification of Fayemi.
In the suit No: FHC/ABJ/05/693/18 and dated July 2, 2018, with Fayemi, the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively, Olatunji is seeking an order disqualifying the 1st defendant from contesting the governorship election for submitting false information to the 2nd and 3rd defendants as it relates to his non-resignation from the public service.
This is in addition to his conviction for embezzlement and fraud by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the basis of which he contested the said 2nd defendant’s governorship primary election and is contesting the awaiting governorship election.
It would be recalled that a former governor of the state and runner-up in the governorship primary, Engr. Segun Oni had took similar step to challenge the legality of Fayemi, who was the immediate past Minister of Mines and Steel Development, as the party’s candidate in the coming election.
In the “originating summons” filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the immediate APC deputy national chairman, through the Segun Oni Campaign Organization, SOCO is challenging Fayemi’s legitimacy partly on the grounds that he was still a minister when he contested in the party’s primary.
Also, Olatunji in an affidavit deposed to, averred that Fayemi, after serving as the governor of Ekiti State and after handing over to his successor, was accused of financial impropriety and embezzlement of public funds, pursuant to which the state government set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired Chief Judge of the State, Hon. Justice Silas Bamidele Oyewole, which after its sittings, deliberations and considerations of issues and evidence before it, found the Fayemi guilty of embezzlement and misapplication of public funds, indicted him and banned the 1st defendant from occupying any public office for 10 years, apart from recommending him for criminal prosecution.
He’s also seeking to know “whether the information which the 1st defendant gave to the 2nd and 3rd defendants part of which is that he has resigned from the public service of the Federal Government of Nigeria as the Federal Minister of Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel Development before the primary election of the 12th May, 2018…”.
He therefore called for “a declaration that the second runner up in the said 2nd defendant’s primary election (which is Adebayo Segun Oni) having scored 481 votes which is the majority of the lawful and valid votes cast at the said 2nd defendant’s 12th May, 2018 governorship primary election for the purpose of nominating/determining the 2nd Defendant’s candidate for the 14th July, 2018 Ekiti State governorship election is the person that was validly nominated by the 2nd defendant for the said 14th July, 2018 Ekiti State governorship election”.
The claimant is also seeking an order directing INEC, to forward the name of the second runner up in the primary election, Adebayo Segun Oni, to INEC as the 2nd Defendant’s duly nominated candidate for the Ekiti State governorship election scheduled to hold on the 14th July, 2018, as well as an order of the court directing INEC to strike out and or delete the name of Kayode Fayemi as the candidate and replace him with the name of the second runner up in the primary election
Olatunji, while addressing journalists in Abuja argued that “the constitution must take its course; the party has a constitution and guidelines which the candidate of the APC, John Kayode Fayemi, in Ekiti State did not oblige to”.
“Due to this, even while in office as a sitting governor, he can still be disqualified, and whosoever that might have emerged second position in the primary election will be declared winner of the election. This is a constitutional matter, it is better to lay a good precedence as far as our democracy is concerned so that people can follow this route.
“The APC will definitely emerge in the forthcoming Ekiti State governorship election slated for July 14, 2018; the essence of going to court against John Kayode Fayemi is that when time comes and somebody wants to do exactly what he did he will be cautioned and that is the essence.
“Tomorrow it could be you, it could be me or somebody else, so we have to lay a good precedence today, whereby everybody will know that this is exactly what we would have done, because every other person who contested with him at the primary level resigned, such as Chief Segun Oni who resigned almost 40 days before the election took place, so how much more of a sitting minister who used the state apparatus for his own advantage, and you can’t be a judge in your own matter; it is against the rule of law.
“So, in view of this the man who ought to resign that refused to resign will be honourably disqualified in court; it is only the court that can do that”, he stressed.