Finally, Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has received the backing of the highest court in Nigeria, the Supreme Court, to remain his position as the chief executive officer of the state, appealing to his opponents to “sheath their swords.”
The court on Tuesday dismissed a suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC), challenging his election as governor in 2014, saying it lacked merit.
Again, Governor Fayose is facing an impeachment threat from 19 APC lawmakers who accused him of gross misconduct.
Receiving the verdict of the court, Fayose, departed from his usual combative speech as he appealed to the lawmakers to give peace chance and support his government.
His words: “To my opponents, I plead with you to sheath your sword and join me in the development of Ekiti State. If truly our struggle is about service to our dear State, it is time to come together and channel all our resources towards the development of the State.”
Fayose appealed to all and sundry to cooperate with him to complete his tenure peacefully as the governor of the state. He publicly declared that his opponents should forgive him, saying it’s only God that is perfect.
“I am irrevocably committed to the protection of all, including the opposition in the state. Nobody is infallible, and I am not a perfect being. The only one that is perfect is God, but He, in His infinite mercies has made me the Governor of Ekiti State today.
“I have a term and tenure; there will be another opportunity for Ekiti people to decide who governs them. Rather than trouble the peace of the state, our friends in the opposition parties should accept the will of God concerning our dear state and wait till 2018,” he said in response to the Supreme Court judgment.
To its utmost exhilaration, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has congratulated the governor over the court’s ruling, saying judiciary has proved its mettle as the only hope for the masses.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said it regrets that the ruling came when “key institutions of democracy such as INEC and some security personnel, have already started compromising their independence apparently under the dictates of an obsessive APC.”
Ahead of the Supreme Court ruling, Fayose, in a statewide broadcast last Monday, asked the people of the state to maintain peace and pursue their businesses and lawful duties normally.
The APC had petitioned the Ekiti Governorship Election Tribunal challenging the victory of Fayose in the governorship election.
The Tribunal, on December 19, 2014, upheld Mr. Fayose’s victory and dismissed the APC’s petition for “lack of merit”.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, the APC went to the Court of Appeal, on the grounds that Mr. Fayose was not eligible to contest the governorship election since he had been impeached on October 16, 2006 during his first tenure as governor.
The APC also alleged that the governor forged his academic credentials and breached the Code of Conduct rules.
On February 16, a five-member Appeal Court panel, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, upheld the judgment of the Election Tribunal and affirmed Mr. Fayose as winner of the June 21, 2014 poll.
The Appeal Court, however, upheld APC’s complaints that the military was used to harass and intimidate its supporters and leaders during the polls.
The APC, not satisfied with the judgment, went to the Supreme Court.
The court on Tuesday upheld Fayose’s election.
The governor, who described himself as an Israeli said; “I’m like Israel that is in the midst of enemies but will always prevail. Whoever wants to remove me will first have to impeach God.”
He said the APC members were trying to get at him because he wholeheartedly supported President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid.
“They are doing all these just to get at me because of my support for President Jonathan and I have no regret for supporting the president.
“Let me say it again, I have not been served any impeachment notice. The House of Assembly is also on recess and Dr Adewale Omirin is not the speaker of the State House of Assembly.
“Omirin is in court, challenging his impeachment and he can’t be challenging his impeachment in court and at the same time laying claim to being Speaker,” he said.
Fayose appeared to have displayed doggedness in the annals of his struggle and eventual victory over time.
It would be recalled that the same judiciary that succeeded in retaining Fayose in the State House today had been earlier molested by his supporters at the wake of his resumption of office. On Thursday September 25, 2014, a set of thugs invaded the premises of a court presided over by Justice John Adeyeye, beating him up and tearing his suit while police on guard looked unconcerned.
The drama ensued as judges, magistrates, and other members of staff that were on duty had to run for their lives while court properties were damaged.
The assailants attacked the judge, ripping his clothes for being allegedly rude to Mr. Fayose. Members of staff were also beaten and the court record book was torn into pieces. Even the court proceedings at the election tribunal within the Ado Ekiti High Court premises were also disrupted.
Governor Fayose, however, denied any knowledge of the act, saying it was a propaganda aimed at rubbishing his profile and records of dignity.
The violence was in connection with the murder of Chief Omolafe Aderiye, immediate past state chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
Aderiye, who had accompanied Fayose to the Ekiti State High Court, Ado-Ekiti, where the inaugural sitting of the State Election Petition Tribunal was disrupted was shot dead hours after.
Another controversy was the ripple between Fayose and the speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Adewale Omirin, who was impeached by the seven PDP members in the house.
However, Governor Fayose terminated the appointment of all the aides of the speaker and allegedly tampered with his (Omirin) welfare package, an action the opposition party, APC, opposed vehemently.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party claimed that over 200 armed policemen were deployed to offer protection to the seven PDP members of the House who convened purposely to impeach the Speaker, approve the list of commissioners’ designate as well as the caretaker committee members for the local councils in the state.
According to the statement, the utility services in the official residence of the Speaker, including electricity supply, were cut off while his salaries and allowances were stopped.
Few weeks before the presidential election, Fayose was in the news over various political statements that critics believed were inciting.
It was observed that most of the adverts published in Nigerian newspapers by Fayose, which predicted death for the President-elect, Mohammadu Buhari, became subject of discussion among Nigerians. Fayose had also predicted that Buhari was going to lose the presidential election woefully.
“I can say it categorically that Buhari will be beaten silly and I am advising Buhari and his APC to take the impending defeat philosophically as an act of God. May be after this election, the party will change its name from APC to Panadol.”
Observers, however, said that since the Supreme Court has spoken in his favour and he has also gone down on his knees to ask for forgiveness, both his friends and enemies should accept the verdict in good faith and give peace a chance in the state.