The Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, yesterday dismissed the suit filed by former Governor Segun Oni challenging the eligibility of Governor Kayode Fayemi to contest the July 14 governorship election.
Delivering judgment, Justice Uche Agomoh held that Oni’s originating summons challenging Fayemi’s eligibility to stand as the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate is “completely lacking in merit”.
Defendants in the suit are Fayemi (first), APC (second) and Independent National Electoral Commission (third).
The suit started at the Federal High Court, Abuja, but was later referred to the Ado-Ekiti Division of the court.
The court held that Fayemi was eligible to contest, though he was 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, the 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, for the primary conducted on May 12.
Fayemi won the primary with 941 votes to defeat Oni, who garnered 481 votes and 32 other candidates.
Filing the suit on June 21, Oni averred that Fayemi was not qualified to contest for the governorship poll, claiming that he did not resign as Minister of Mines and Steel Development 30 days before the APC primary.
He 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 Ayodele 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 to provide the court with evidence that Fayemi did not resign from office, as he claimed in his (Oni’s) originating summons.
She held that Fayemi was not in the category of officers of the party (APC) who must resign before contesting for an elective public officer, as Oni claimed.
The judge refused to grant Oni’s prayer that Fayemi is declared ineligible to run for governor on the basis of his purported indictment by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Fayose administration.
The judge held that her court did not have the legal right to sit on an appeal of a matter that had been determined by a court of coordinate jurisdiction, as the case had been dismissed by a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
Justice Agomoh said: “There must be evidence that he was served and called upon to defend himself. Looking at all pieces of evidence before me filed by parties therein, I am not satisfied that this condition was met in this case.”
Court adjourns the trial of El-Zakzaky, wife, till March 25
A Kaduna State High Court presided over by Justice Gideon Kurada on Tuesday adjourned the trial of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiite, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, till March 25.
El Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since December 2015, following clashes between his members and the Nigerian army in Zaria, Kaduna state.
They are standing trial over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of public peace, among others.
They were earlier denied bail by Justice Kurada during the last sitting on the matter on November 7, 2018 on the grounds that the defendant failed to support their request for bail with enough medical evidence that would allow the court to exercise its discretion in his favour.
The matter was subsequently adjourned to January 22, 2019 for accelerated hearing.
When the case came up for mention on Tuesday, the prosecution lawyers led by Bayero Dari of the ministry of Justice, prayed the court to continue with the case, even though the authorities were yet to get hold of the other two accused persons under trial.
Lead counsel to the plaintiffs, Femi Falana (SAN), made no objection to the demand, but prayed the court to amend the charges to be KDSG vs Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, to which the presiding Judge agreed to.
Falana prayed the court to give a mandatory order for his clients to be flown abroad to receive proper medical attention since the government has glaringly failed to cure them of the injuries they sustained during the army’s onslaught on their residence in December, 2015.
Falana argued that Sheikh El Zakzaky had in January 2018, suffered stroke in detention and since the attack by the soldiers three years ago, he has not been allowed to optimally access healthcare.
He said El Zakzaky had lost his left eye as a result of the military bullets unleashed on him during the attack and stands the risk of losing his sight completely except if urgent medical attention is provided.
Falana added that the health situation of El Zakzaky’s wife Zeenat, had also deteriorated as she was experiencing severe excruciating pains due to the presence of shrapnel lodged in her body following the horrendous attacks by the Nigerian military.
While adjourning the case, Justice Gideon Kurada said the court cannot accede to the request of the defendant to travel abroad for medical treatment.
He however ordered that El Zakzaky should be allowed by the government to bring doctors of his choice to examine him in the presence of doctors from the government before the date of the next sitting.
Obanikoro testifies against Fayose
A former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, on Monday, told a federal high court that money was given to former Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti from the impress account of a former National Security Adviser, in June 2014.
Obanikoro gave evidence in the trial of Fayose before Justice Mojisola Olaterogun in Lagos.
Fayose is facing charges of N6.9 billion fraud.
He was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Oct. 22, 2018, alongside a company Spotless Investment Ltd., on 11 counts.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
The substantive trial began on Nov. 19, 2018, with the EFCC calling four witnesses.
On Monday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) appeared for the EFCC, while Messrs Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) represented the first and second accused respectively.
Jacobs then called on Obanikoro, the fifth prosecution witness, to give evidence.
The counsel led the former minister in evidence.
Jacobs asked him where he was in 2014 and he told the court that he was the Minister of State for Defence.
The counsel asked him to tell the court what he knew about the case.
The witness testified that in June 2014, when Ekiti State governorship election was near, he received a call from the accused, enquiring from him if there was any ‘message’ for him from the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki.
The witness said that he told Fayose that there was none but promised to check with the NSA and give Fayose feedback.
He told the court that eventually, the NSA confirmed to him that he had a “message” for the accused and that the funds would be made available.
The prosecutor then showed the witness exhibit E to confirm if it was the account to which the funds were transferred, and the witness replied: “Yes”.
The witness told the court that on June 13, 2014, and June 16, 2014, funds were posted into the account, adding that the funds were from the impress account of the NSA.
He said that he asked the accused how he wanted the money, and he told him that some amounts should be paid in Naira and others in dollars.
According to him, the money was eventually brought in a bullion van to the private wing of the Ikeja Airport, where one Agbele, sent by the accused, was on standby.
He testified that after confirmation from the accused, the money was taken to Ekiti.
The witness told the court that afterwards, he went to Ado-Ekiti to meet the accused in his hotel, known as Spotless, and gave him the dollar component which was five million dollars.
The prosecution counsel asked Obanikoro how many days it was to the Ekiti governorship election when he gave Fayose the money.
“About three days to the election,” the witness replied.
The prosecution also asked the former minister the source of the money.
“The NSA is the only person that can ascertain the source of the money; it is from the impress account of the NSA,” he said.
The counsel asked how the money was debited and the witness told the court that he gave instructions to the managing director of the Diamond bank, but was not available when the deductions were made.
When asked his connection with the accounts, Obanikoro said that it was used for security purposes, adding that he would not want to divulge further information on that.
After the evidence, the defence sought an adjournment to enable it to cross-examine the witness.
After several objections and counter objections, the judge granted an adjournment until Feb. 4, for cross-examination of Obanikoro.
Human Rights: FFK drags EFCC to court
Chief Femi Fani Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation and Secretary of Pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin have dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to court to enforce their fundamental rights.
Also joined in the suit are the State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPS).
Prayers sought include, “A DECLARATION that the Respondent’s public declaration to arrest the Applicants on the bases of spreading false rumours, is an infringement of the Applicants rights and breach of their fundamental rights enshrined…” in the 1999 constitution (as amended).
And “AN ORDER enforcing the Applicants’ fundamental rights and ordering the Respondents to stop issuing threat of unlawful arrest…”
Also “AN ORDER OF INJUNCTION” protecting the Applicants from indiscriminate arrest by restraining the Respondents from threatening, harassing, intimidating, inviting, arresting or detaining the Applicants, by the Respondents, their privies or agents.
Chief Fani-Kayode, former minister of Aviation and Chief Odumakin, the Spokesman of the Pan Yoruba group, Afenifere demand for the sum of twenty million naira (N20m) “as damages for the unlawful threat” against them.
Barr Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), former Attorney-General of Imo State, who swiftly filed the case in a couple of hours after been briefed, is standing in for both Chief Fani-Kayode and Chief Odumakin who are the plantiffs.
Earlier, the Spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Tony Orilade, had publicly threatened to “invite both Femi Fani-Kayode and Odumakin” and if they fail to honour “the invitation within 48 hours” they will be arrested.
He added that if they honour the invitation but fail to give useful information they will be detained, then the commission will seek to “obtained a court order” to allow the EFCC detain them for a long period while investigating.
He claimed that it was Chief Fani-Kayode and Chief Odumakin that initiated the rumours through their tweet and video respectfully.
The Spokesman also vowed that despite that the video had been deleted and the tweet pulled down, with apology, the Commission will not forgive the duo because according to him, it was a serious issue capable of setting the country ablaze.
Court grants Dino bail
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has granted bail to Senator Dino Melaye on health grounds.
Justice Yusuf Halilu in his ruling ordered Dino to produce three sureties including the Clark of the National Assembly who must produce a written undertaking to produce him in court.
The other sureties, the court ruled, must be residents of the FCT who have landed properties in Abuja.
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