Court Strikes Out Oni's Suit Against JKF, Says: Minister Is Not a Civil Servant .... As Gov Applauds Oni For Not Seeking Self Help

Ganiyu Salau
Fountain Newsbreaker

The Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti on Monday dismissed the
suit filed by former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni challenging the
eligibility of the incumbent, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to contest the July 14 governorship election.

The court held that Fayemi was eligible to contest as a sitting
Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, because he was not in the category of public officers envisaged by the Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the APC Election Guidelines to resign from office before contesting.

The court further ruled that Fayemi was qualified to run having been validly nominated as the flag bearer by his party, the APC from the
primary conducted on 12th May, 2018.

Meanwhile, Governor Fayemi who won the primary polling 941 votes to defeat Oni who garnered 481 votes and thirty two other candidates, had commended his challenger for taking a legal redress and not resulting to self help.

Fayemi made this statement in a release signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Yinka Oyebode, yesterday in his reaction to the landmark judgement made on his eligibility instituted by Engr Segun Oni

In filing the suit on June 21, 2018, Oni averred that Fayemi was not
qualified to contest claiming that he did not resign from office as
Minister of Mines and Steel Development thirty days before the APC
primary election.

Oni also said Fayemi was not eligible by virtue of his indictment by
the Justice Silas Oyewole-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry
empanelled by former Governor Ayo Fayose.

Justice Agomoh held that Section 318 of the Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which defines who is a public
officer, was not applicable to Fayemi as a serving Minister.

The judge held that the provision did not refer to the Office of the
Minister of the Federal Republic adding that Oni also failed provide
the court with evidence that Fayemi did not resign from office as he
claimed in his (Oni’s) Originating Summons.

She further held that Fayemi is not in the category of officers of the party (APC) that must resign before contesting for an elective public officer as claimed by Oni.

Justice Agomoh refused to grant Oni’s prayer that Fayemi be declared
as ineligible to run for governor on the basis of his purported indictment by the Justice Silas Oyewole-led Judicial Commission of
Inquiry set up by the Ayo Fayose administration.

The judge held that her court does not have the legal right to sit on
appeal of a case that had been determined by a court of coordinate
jurisdiction as the case had been dismissed by a Federal Capital
Territory (FCT) High Court.

“There must be evidence that he was served and called upon to defend himself. Looking at all evidences before me filed by parties therein, I am not satisfied that this condition was met in this case.

Ruling on whether Fayemi was a party office holder as alleged by Oni who must resign at least thirty days before running for governor, the court ruled that evidence before it proved contrary.

The Court disagreed with Oni that Fayemi was a member of fourteen
organs of the party including National Convention, Board of Trustees, National Caucus and Zonal Committee

Justice Agomoh also referred to Article 14 of the party (APC) Constitution which spells out party’s office holders saying there was
no proof that Fayemi was a party office holder.

“I have carefully examined the constitution of the party and unable to
see any of the offices the claimant (Oni) has suggested that the
defendant (Fayemi) is holding.

“Therefore I have found out that the defendant (Fayemi) is not a party
office holder which would have made him to resign prior to the primary

“Therefore my finding is that the first defendant has not been proved
to be a party office holder which would have made him to resign prior
to the primary of the third defendant,” the judge further held.

On Oni’s claim that Fayemi did not resign as Minister at least thirty
days before the primary, Justice Agomoh ruled that the governor did
not violate Section 318 (1) of the Constitution,

She held: “Having critically reviewed the above provisions, I am of
the firm view that it is inapplicable in the circumstances of this
case. Section 318 of the Constitution defines what being in public service is, nowhere in the said provision makes reference to the Office of the Minister which is what first defendant was occupying.

“The guideline in the provision says the person to be affected must be employed in public service, I do not believe that the Minister of the Federal Republic is employed in the public service as contemplated by the guidelines.

“A Minister though a public office holder, is simply appointed at the
pleasure of the President and confirmed by the National Assembly he
can therefore be removed at (the) will (of President).

“Unlike an employee of public service, who has a letter of employment.
Since he (Oni) contended that the first defendant is an employee of
public service, he who alleges must prove.

“The burden is on the person (Oni) to produce before this court the
employment letter of the first defendant (Fayemi).”

Delivering the final verdict, Justice Agomoh held: “Consequent upon my findings above, I am of the firm view that this Originating Summons is
completely lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed

Meanwhile, there was a palpable tension in an outside the Federal High Court along the new Iyin road, Ado Ekiti yesterday when the presiding judge did not appear for the judgement by 1130am as scheduled. One of the court clerks addressed the court at about 208pm apologising for the incidence and assuring that Justice Agomah was on her way to deliver the judgement.

Hon Justice Ushe Agomah appeared in the court at about 327pm and apologized to have come late to the court

All the lawyers hailed the judgement and applauded the court to have discharged the case on time and it was a land mark judgement.

While asked outside the court on the judgement, Oni's lawyer, Barrister Sola Elesin said he would study the judgement before knowing the next line of action but the lead counsel to Fayemi, Rafiu Balogun hailed the judgement and advised the politicians to always abide by the decision of their political parties after the primary so as to strengthen democracy.


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