15th October, 2010
The Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria, this afternoon ousted Mr. Segun Oni as governor of Ekiti State. He is to be replaced immediately by the Action Congress candidate, Kayode Fayemi. The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the certificate of return earlier given to Oni and issue a new one proclaiming Fayemi the lawfully elected governor.
Justice Ayo Salami, President of the court, leading other four judges, delivered the unanimous verdict. He said Fayemi defeated Oni by 10,965 majority votes, contrary to earlier verdict by INEC and the lower court. Justice Salami said the court voided the votes recorded for Oni in Ijero and Ido-Osi local council areas, for not complying with the electoral act.
The landmark judgement which sparked instantaneous jubilation in Ado-Ekiti, climaxed the almost three year, six months battle by Fayemi to claim a mandate he believed the Ekiti people gave him on 14 April 2007 and the subsequent rerun last year.
In his reaction, the chairman of the Action Congress in Ekiti, Mr. Jide Awe declared: â€˜â€™For the past four years, falsehood has been running but today truth has overtaken itâ€.
Reacting to the victory, the Action Congress of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter described Fayemiâ€™s victory as an act of God.
Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Joe Igbokwe said â€œto God be the glory that Dr. Fayemi got justice after almost four years of lies, killings, confusion, frustration, torture, rigmarole and brigandage in Ekiti State.
â€œOni should not be allowed to go home scotfree. He should be prosecuted for stealing Dr. Fayemiâ€™s mandate for almost four years. God is a God of justice.â€
The verdict also came three weeks after the adoption of submissions by lawyers.
The chief bailiff of the Appeal Court sent a notice of the judgement via SMS to the lawyers to the two parties yesterday. The lawyers had closed their cases on 23 September.
Fayemi had challenged the return of Oni in the 2009 rerun election held in 63 of 177 wards in the state.
The ACN candidate had filed a petition on 2 June 2009 against Oniâ€™s victory in the 27 April and 5 May 2009 rerun elections.
The reconstituted governorship rerun tribunal, in a split decision of three to two last year, affirmed Oniâ€™s victory.
The judgment delivered by the tribunal chairman, Justice Hamma Barka, upheld Oniâ€™s election on the grounds that Fayemiâ€™s alleged electoral malpractices were not substantial enough to invalidate the results of the polls.
The majority ruling declared Oni winner with 109,000 to Dr. Kayode Fayemiâ€™s 106,000 after deductions of unlawful votes were made.
The minority ruling opposed this by upholding that the petitioners had duly and dutifully proved their case. Two judges supported the minority judgement while three judges endorsed the majority ruling.
Oniâ€™s election as governor has been contentious since 2007 with Fayemi challenging his victory rigorously at the Election Petition Tribunal in Ekiti State.
Oni was thrown out of office after the court of appeal upturned the decision of a lower court after the 14 April 2007 governorship election.
The 2009 rerun election in Ekiti State was marred by violence and intimidation, with many journalists attacked.
The Resident electoral commissioner, Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo, initially refused to announce the results of the re-run election. She claimed that she was under pressure to announce a doctored result.
She temporarily went into hiding, re-emerged and declared Oni winner.
â€”Stephen Oni/ Ilorin