The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Ayodele Fayose was duly elected the governor of Ekiti State in the election that was held June 21, 2014.
The Supreme Court in a unianimous decision of a seven-man panel headed by Justice John Fabiyi, upheld the earlier decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Ekiti State Governorship Election Tribunal, which had earlier ruled that the All Progressives Congress ( APC’s) petition challenging Fayose’s victory lacked merit.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, the apex court dismissed all the grounds of appeal filed by the APC and resolved all the four issues arising from the appeal .
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared that Fayose of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 203,090 votes to floor the former governor, Kayode Fayemi, of APC, who polled 120,433 votes? .
Dissatisfied by the results, the APC filed a petition, urging the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which sat in Abuja, to nullify the election.
APC had anchored its case on the grounds of alleged irregularities, intimidation of its leaders by the military, ineligibility of Fayose to stand for the election and allegation that the PDP candidate forged his Higher National Diploma certificate presented to INEC.
The Justice Siraju-Mohammed-led tribunal had, in its verdict delivered on December 19, 2014, ?dismissed the petition for lacking merit.
?The Justice Abdul Aboki-led five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, on April 15, 2015 affirmed the decision of the tribunal.
Dissatisfied with the Court of Appeal ruling, APC further appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment on Tuesday, held that none of the grounds of appeal was proved by the appellant?.
It held that while impeachment was not a ground of disqualification ?from contesting as governor under Section 182 of Nigeria’s Constitution, the panel which recommended Fayose’s impeachment on October 16, 2006, was illegally and unconstitutionally constituted.
The court also held that the allegation of certificate forgery had been caught by the principle of “issue estoppel” as it had been laid to rest since 2004 by the Court of Appeal’s judgment? in the case of Alliance for Democracy (AD).
According to the apex court, the Court of Appeal had, in the said judgment, held that the HND certificate was genuinely earned by and awarded to Fayose.
On the issue of militarisation and harassment of the APC leaders, the Supreme Court held that the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector-General of Police, joined as 4th and 5th defendants in the case were not necessary parties.
The apex court held that ?the actions of the men and officers of the two defendants that allegedly harassed the APC leaders during the election and whose names were not mentioned could also not be answerable for by the INEC as stipulated by the Electoral Act.
Ahead of today’s ruling, the APC had alleged that the PDP was planning to attack its members and supporters, if judgment had gone against Fayose.
In a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary in Ekiti, Taiwo Olatubosun, on Monday, the APC said it had discovered plans by the PDP to burn down houses of its leaders and cause bodily harm to members and supporters if the judgment is not favourable to Fayose.
APC, in its petition, had alleged that fraud, including perjury, unlawful use of soldiers, intimidation of supporters and compromised ballot papers, were used to give victory to PDP at the June 21, 2014 poll.
The party had called on security agencies to provide adequate security for APC members and arrest those causing crises in the state.