Law News
Ekiti CJ Shuts down Courts as Fayose’s Supporters Beat up Judge


As the trial of the Governor-elect of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose,  over a case instituted to challenge his qualification for the June 21 governorship election begins to  generate tension, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ayodeji Daramola,  has ordered the closure of all courts operating  in the state till further notice.

In spite of the heavy presence of security personnel, comprising men of the Nigerian Army, police and State Security Service (SSS), who  took over the court premises to prevent the recurrence of what happened  on Monday, when the trial judge,  Justice Segun Ogunyemi, was beaten, some youths yesterday still protested  in continuation of their opposition to alleged plan to stop Fayose’s inauguration through judicial means.

A statement signed  by the Chief Registrar of the state judiciary, Mr. Obafemi Fasanmi, said the action was taken as a result of the series of attacks being launched against the judicial officers of the state High Court  in Ado-Ekiti by political thugs, leading to allegedly harassment and  manhandling  of Justices John Adeyeye and Segun Ogunyemi.

The statement said the new date for the reopening of the court would be announced later.

Also buttressing the chief judge’s position, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Wale
Fapohunda, who revealed to journalists on how Justice Adeyeye  was assaulted,  alleged that those who carried out the act did it on the order of the governor-elect, who was accused of going round the court premises with large number of supporters.

But Fayose, who spoke with journalists in Ado-Ekiti, denied the allegation, describing  it as not only unfounded, but spurious, adding that: “I am  not aware that a judge  was beaten. In fact, this is strange to me.”

Addressing the journalists on the matter, Fapohunda said: “I was informed that the irate youths attacked the judge on the order of the governor elect. We don’t want a judiciary that will be subjected to intimidation and harassment, so we are calling on the Fayose’s lawyers on how to respect the dignity and sanctity of the court.

“Though, I have not spoken with the victim judge directly, all the relevant judicial officers had confirmed to me the action of the hoodlums. I will personally report this to the Legal Practice Disciplinary Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), because the lawyers to Fayose would be directly held responsible.

Speaking further, Fayose said: “This is a reckless  and strange to me. Though I visited the Election Petition Tribunal as a party to the case, I was the only one who was allowed passage by the security at the tribunal. And to the best of my knowledge, the three judges handling the case actually sat.

“How can I order the people to beat up a judge that has nothing to do with me? At what point was this judge beaten? Was he a member of the tribunal? Because  I went to the tribunal and not the regular court.

“But I want to point out that a situation whereby judges or judicial officers, who should be custodian of the law got compromised with politicians, then anarchy has set in. The judge handling  the suit against my qualification  dropped the case because of tension and because he lacks the confidence  to continue.

“It would have been better  for him to insist that he would try the case based on its merit. It is sad that most of our judges have compromised.

“If you have been defeated in all the 16  local government areas and you now want to come through the window, it won’t be like ice cream party to All Progressives Congress (APC). I would not be too cheap like Segun Oni. I am not going to be cheap at all because I was elected by the people.

“I don’t care about whatever they  write about me because I have grown a thick skin. The strategy of APC will not work. Nobody, no matter how highly placed, would remove me cheaply,” Fayose said.

However, the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, has chosen October 14, a day to the end of the administration of Dr Kayode Fayemi, as the date for the commencement of hearing in the petition filed by APC against the June 21 governorship election in the state. This was after the three-man tribunal, led by Justice Mohammed Sirajo, concluded the pre-hearing in the matter yesterday in which the parties in the matter had agreed that the applications are to be consolidated for hearing.

This came as the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Taiwo Lakanu,  also led his men to  provide escort for the judges and lawyers out of the state judiciary complex where the tribunal was sitting.

Lakanu said: “It is our duty to maintain law and order and I had to leave my office to ensure that this is achieved.”

Meanwhile,  constitutional lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has condemned the alleged attack on a High Court judge

In a statement made available to THISDAY, Falananoted that in his reaction to the outcome of the state governorship election held on June 21, he had expressed the view that the Ekiti people had gone back to Egypt.

“The mayhem unleashed on a high court judge, lawyers and litigants in the precincts of the Ekiti State High Court sitting at Ado Ekiti on Monday, September, 23, 2014 by a gang of hired hoodlums has confirmed that the Ekiti people have fully returned to the wilderness. As the thugs were not brought to book they regrouped this morning and launched another attack on the High Court. In the process Justice Isaac Adeyeye was beaten up while the car of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association was destroyed. Other judges and lawyers ran for dear lives,” he explained.

Falana said by desecrating the temple of Justice with the connivance of the police, the armed gang left no one in doubt that they had the full backing of the ruling party in executing the premeditated onslaught on the judiciary.

According to him, so far, those who perpetrated the barbaric attack and their sponsors have admitted their ignoble role through public statements issued by them.

He said the Ekiti State governor-elect, Mr. Ayo Fayose had justified the shameful attack on the rule of law in Ekiti State by saying that his election could not be challenged in court.

Falana said the attack was a reminder of the Idi Amin era in Uganda when judges were killed, while discharging judicial functions.

“Mr. Fayose and his thugs should not be allowed to kill judges and lawyers before calling him to order.  Since the Ekiti State police command is completely compromised the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abbah is called upon to ensure that all the assailants are arrested and prosecuted without any delay. Any attempt to cover up the brazen contempt of court should be resisted by the Attorney-General of Ekiti State, Mr. Wale Fapounda who should take decisive measures to bring the criminals to book. Let no one politicize the criminality of those who are bent on replacing the rule of law with rule of force in Ekiti State,” he explained.

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