Appeal Court Sacks Oni, Orders Re-Run In 10 Councils
February 17, 2009
By Lanre Babalola & Steven Oni/Ilorin, Gbenro Adeshina/ Ado-Ekiti
The Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, this afternoon sacked Dr. Olusegun Oni as governor of Ekiti State, ordering him to handover immediately to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
But a replacement for the governor will have to be awaited in 90 days time as the court also ordered fresh elections in 10 out of 16 local councils to determine the actual winner of the 14 April 2007 polls in the state.
The decision of the court climaxed the appeal filed by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, candidate of the Action Congress (AC).
Dr. Fayemi had appealed against the verdict of the election petition tribunal which had last year declared Oni winner.
The Musa Datti-led court, after a long delay, began delivering the judgement around 12.30 though the ruling was read by Adiza Gana Mshelia.
The panel of judges earlier went into recess twice purportedly to deliberate over an application by a candidate of the ANPP.
Fayemi had lost the first ground of his appeal as the court ruled that he was unable to prove that it was Oni who sent people to disrupt the election.
Fayemi also lost two other grounds. The court said he failed to prove substantially non-compliance with the electoral law.
The table, however, turned against governor Oni
The venue of the ruling was this morning jam-packed with supporters of Fayemi and Governor Oni.
Security was tight around the court as everyone was frisked by heavily armed policemen.
Meanwhile, back in the Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, the people were anxious to know the situation back in Ilorin.
Because the ruling was not relayed on TV, many were frantically making calls to Ilorin to keep abreast of the development.
There was wild jubilation at the governor’s office in Ado-Ekiti this afternoon when news of the rejection of some of the grounds of the appeal emanated in court.
P.M.News correspondent had earlier sighted Governor Oni exuding confidence while arriving his office around 9:20 a.m. in company of his aides and some of his commissioners…….
NOTE: The Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly – and soon to be Acting Governor, if not so already - is PDP’s Hon. Olatunji Odeyemi from Ode-Ekiti, in Gbonyin Local Government Area, the South Senatorial District. He became Speaker on July 8, 2008, after former speaker Hon. Richard Olufemi Bamisile was impeached by 18 of the 26 members of the state assembly.
Court Kicks Out Oni
A FRESH election is to be organised in 10 local governments to determine the winner of the Ekiti governorship election, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday. GUARDIAN
The court nullified the election of Mr Olusegun Oni of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who had been occupying the office.
Oni’s election was challenged by Action Congress (AC) candidate Dr Kayode Fayemi.
The Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, which nullified the result of the April 14, 2007 governorship election, ordered Oni to vacate the seat for the Speaker of the House of Assembly, who will run the state, pending the election into the 10 local governments where accreditation did not take place before the election.
The court submitted that the substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act in the 10 local governments vitiated the election.
“The allegations are not spurious as I resolved in favour of the appellant,” the court said.
The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) is to within 90 days conduct the fresh election in the wards affected by the malpractices in the affected local government areas.
The affected local government areas are: Gbonyin (three wards), Ido/Osi (all wards), Ikole (nine wards), Ekiti South West (two wards), Ekiti West (three wards), Oye (two wards) Irepodun/Ifelodun (eight wards), Ise/Orun (all wards), Ijero (eight wards) and Ekiti East (eight Wards).
The appellant had complained that accreditation into the 10 contested local governments in the said election did not substantially comply with the provision of the Electoral Act 2006. The result of such election is a nullity, he said.
The petitioner had appealed against the verdict of the trial tribunal which ruled in favour of the respondent.
The petitioner argued that the result of the April 14, 2007 election in favour of the PDP candidate was fraught with irregularities as it did not comply with the 2006 Electoral Act.
In a judgment that lasted almost three hours, the five-man panel, led by Justice Musa D. Muhammed, unanimously agreed that the result of the other local governments would stand.
Other members of the team are Justices Jimi Bada, Adzria Gana Mshella, Mojeed A. Owoade and Sidi Bage.
Justice Muhammed awarded a N30,000 cost against the respondent.
He described as perverse the submission of the electoral officers to accredit voters before the election, adding that such action a dismal volte face.
His words: “Any election without accreditation is a nullity and flagrant violation of the Electoral Act 2006 and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, because no lawful election can take place without due and proper accreditation.
“The petitioner has discharged the proof of burden with a preponderance of evidence. The tribunal is right to have placed emphasis on documentary evidence.”
Dismissing the first of the five issues raised by Dr Fayemi’s counsel, Justice Muhammed ruled that the trial tribunal said the witnesses the petitioner called only helped him to dismantle the edifices he had built for himself, adding that at the trial tribunal the petitioner called 77 witnesses, including 10 electoral officers.
Accordingly, he resolved the issue against the petitioner, saying: “There is no enough evidence to suggest that the respondent and his agents were responsible for the allegations.”
Justice Mohammed also resolved issues 2 and 3 against the appellant.
Reacting to the judgment, Counsel to Dr Fayemi who led other lawyers, including Mr. Femi Falana, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, accepted the judgment.
Akintola (SAN) added that with the judgment, the judiciary was out to defend the country’s democracy.
Also, counsel to Oni told the court that he agreed in totality with the judgment.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Misinformation sparks victory address, then…
From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado-Ekiti
MIXED reactions yesterday trailed the decision of the Court of Appeal in Ekiti State.
While the members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were mourning their loss, the Action Congress (AC) members trooped out to celebrate their victory at the Court of Appeal which nullify the results of the 10 councils contested by the party at the election tribunal.
However, earlier in the day, the rumour mills were agog with the news that the court had upheld the victory of Segun Oni. This prompted the former governor to address a media briefing praising the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
In company of his deputy, Sikiru Lawal, he had told reporters that the decision of the court to uphold his victory was the will of God and appealed to the AC governorship candidate, Kayode Fayemi, to join his administration.
Describing Fayemi as a friend, he said he would write a formal letter to him to join his government.
But in the thick of the celebrations, a call came through which dismissed the earlier rumour, and broke news of the former governor\’s removal from office.
As the news spread, supporters of Oni, who were dancing and celebrating, began to disappear one after the other, especially as the mood of Oni and Lawal had changed after receiving the news.
After the judgment, commercial cyclists took to the streets, praising the Court of Appeal judges.
Brandishing brooms, the symbol of the AC, their shouts of AC rent the air as they drove through the streets of Ado-Ekiti. They were later joined by AC youths, who were initially unhappy that the court did not declare their candidate, Fayemi as the winner of the election.
They moved in their hundreds towards Iyin Road where they had planned to receive Fayemi who drove in a long convoy of vehicles to the state from Osun State.
However, the expected celebrations was delayed by the refusal of the Police to allow Fayemi\’s convoy to come into the state in anticipation of a break down of law and order.
After several hours, Fayemi was allowed to enter the state capital with hundreds of his supporters chanting his praise.
Fayemi, brandishing a broom, waved to supporters who massed round his vehicle.
It took about an hour before his long convoy of vehicles could go through the streets of Ado-Ekiti, stopping at his campaign Secretariat located opposite the AC secretariat.
Though, many supporters of Oni said they were unruffled by the decision, which they claim was a temporary set-back, they assured PDP members that they would win the re-election in a landslide victory.
Some of those who commented on the side of the PDP, including Director of Communication and Strategy, Mr Jackson Adebayo and Commissioner for Education and Technology, Mrs. Abiola Ayimoche, said Oni would bounce back and reclaim his mandate.
But the AC, in its reaction, said though the judgment fell short of expectation, it praised the Court of Appeal judges for affirming their stand that Oni did not win the majority of lawful votes in the last governorship election.
The party, which spoke through its spokesman, Mr. Yemi Adaramodu and state chairman, Mr. Jide Awe, said they have been vindicated that the election, which brought Oni to power, was manipulated by the former administrator of the state, Brig.-Gen. Adetunji Olurin, in collaboration with INEC