27th February, 2012
GBENRO ADESINA/Ado Ekiti
A five-member Appeal Court panel sitting in Ado Ekiti today in a unanimous verdict dismissed the application brought before it by former Governor Segun Oni, seeking the review of the Appeal Court judgment that ousted him from office.
The judges were Justice Tijani Abdullahi (Chairman), Justice Mrs Musa Abba-Aji, Justice Mrs M.O. Kekere-Ekun, Justice Ismaya Mohammed and Justice R.C. Agbo.
Another Appeal Court panel, led by suspended Appeal Court President, Ayo Salami had delivered judgment in Ilorin on 15 October 2010, sacking Oni and returning Governor Kayode Fayemi as the validly elected governor of the state.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Oni sought the help of the Supreme Court to review the judgment.
Delivering the new verdict at about 3.25 pm, Justice Abdullahi said the only issue for determination is whether the Court could set aside the judgment and order fresh trial or whether it has jurisdiction to entertain the case.
He said the application lacked merit and dismissed it accordingly, stressing, “If there is any case of bias, Oni and PDP ought to have raised objection against it before the trial Appeal Court in Ilorin”.
The court ruled that it could only reverse itself under the following circumstances: one, if it is misled to deliver a ruling, if a judgment is given in the absence of jurisdiction, If the case is a nullity or obnoxious, or if the Court is misled to accept certain facts or evidences.
Mr Ladi Williams (SAN) represented the Petitioner, Mr. Segun Oni and the Peoples Democratic Party while Mr. John Olusola Baiyeshea (SAN) represented the first and second respondents, Governor Kayode Fayemi and ACN.
When the case kicked off in the morning, counsel to Oni requested the court’s leave for adjourement for him to be able to furnish the court with the Certified True Copies of the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) report that established a case of conviviality between the suspended President of the court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami and some ACN bigwigs.
Williams averred that the document and others he intended to present before the Court will assist the court to determine the case expeditiously.
But Baiyeshea countered the position canvassed by the Senior Counsel, saying “there is no basis for adjournment because it is meant to waste the precious time of this Court. What I expected my learned Senior Counsel is to withdraw the application because the NJC report vindicated Justice Salami. I expect that this application should not be in the records of the Court because this is not a trial Court, but a Court set up to investigate a case. If there is going to be adjournment at all, it should be on the premise of the preliminary objection and lack of jurisdiction raised by the ACN”
While the ACN lawyer and State Chairman of the Party, Chief Jide Awe applauded the judgment, lawyer for the PDP, Mr. Ladi Williams said Oni would seek a further appeal at the Supreme Court.
After the judgment was delivered today, members of the ACN burst out in songs, chanting anti-PDP slogans.
The court premises became charged, which forced the police and the State Security Service that had cordoned off Basiri-Fajuyi Road, located in front of the Ado Ekiti High Court, where the Appeal Court was located to fire teargas canisters to disperse the crowd.
The supporters of the two parties had camped at the two different sides of the road, with the police providing a buffer.
Over twenty Police trucks and an Armoured Personnel Carrier and over two hundred policemen and SSS operatives were stationed at the Court’s gate to cage the noisy party members that besieged the Court premises.
After the judgement, with the smoke of the teargas pervading the air, newsmen, Lawyers and party chieftains had to rush back into the Courtroom for safety.