FAYEMI Vs FAYOSE: Jubilation In Ekiti As Appeal Court Confirmed Fayose’s Victory
The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday upheld the judgment of the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which affirmed Governor Ayodele Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the June 21, 2014 poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared that Fayose polled 203,090 votes to defeat the then incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, of the All Progressives Congress who polled 120,433 votes in the election.
Though Justice Abdul Northerner-led five-man panel dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress, it found merit in the appellant’s complaints that the military was used to harass and intimidate its supporters and leaders during the poll.
In a unanimous judgment, the appellate court held that the Justice Siraju-Mohammed-led tribunal in its verdict delivered on December 19, 2014, “hurriedly” dismissed the appellant’s allegations of harassment by the military on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to hear such.
He held that though the tribunal had rightly struck out the names of the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police as respondents in the petition in accordance with provisions of the Electoral Act, it ought to have determined the appellant’s complaints and considered the two parties as agents of INEC or individuals working on behalf of the commission.
The court however held that the entire appeal lacked merit since the main issues of alleged forgery of Higher National Diploma by Fayose and request for his disqualification on the grounds of his earlier impeachment from office in 2006 had been resolved against him.
It however reiterated that the use of Armed Forces in the conduct of elections was in violation of section 217(2)(c) of the Constitution and section 1 of the Armed Forces Act.
It cited and relied on a judgment delivered by Justice R. M Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Sokoto on January 29, 2015 barring the use of the armed forces in the conduct of elections.
The appellate court therefore barred the use of the Armed Forces in the conduct of future elections in the country as such constituted a violation of both the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
Justice Northerner held, “Even the President of Nigeria has no powers to call on the Nigerian Armed Forces to unleash them on peaceful citizenry who are exercising their franchise to elect their leaders.
“In the event of insurrection or insurgency, the call in Armed Forces to restore order must be with approval of the National Assembly… as provided in section 217(2) and 218(4) of the Constitution as ammended.
“The question is that who ordered deployment of military or soldiers in the Ekiti governorship election? Was there any act of insurrection to warrant the call on the military to restore order? And was such deployment in accordance with sections 217 (2)(c) and 218(4) of the constitution?
“There is nothing before us in the records in answering the posers positively.
“With this, whoever unleashed soldiers on Ekiti State disturbed the peace of the election on 21st June 2014, acted in flagrant breach of the Constitution, and flouted the provisions of the Electoral Act which required enabling environment by civil authorities in the conduct of elections.
”We resolve that although the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the 4th and 5th respondents (Inspector General of Police and Chief of Army Staff), in the circumstances, that did not stop it from making a pronouncement on deprecating the unlawful role of the military in the conduct of election in Ekiti State.