Law News
Fayose throws another punch at judiciary

The plan to restore all  the privileges of former Governor Olusegun Oni by the incumbent Governor Ayodele Fayose has again ignited another round of controversies in Ekiti State.  While taking the decision, Fayose, had claimed he decided not to rubbish efforts of past rulers of the state.

However, against the background  Oni was removed from office through the Court of Appeal judgment, which proclaimed he never won the governorship polls conducted in 2007, Fayose’s  decision is building another round of  controversy.

Olusegun Oni was elected governor of Ekiti State in  April 2007 on the PDP platform. He was removed from office on the 15th of October 2010 following the Judgment of an Appeal Court which ruled against him on the basis of  Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s challenging his victory.

The Appeal Court upturned the decision of the lower tribunal. In May 2010, Oni won by a split decision at the election petition tribunal. However, the minority ruling at the tribunal opposed this by upholding the petition filed by  Fayemi.
Two judges supported the minority judgment while three judges endorsed the majority ruling.

Fayose in a statement in Ado-Ekiti  by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Idowu Adelusi, said  he took the step in appreciation of the contributions of past leaders in the state.

“Governor Ayo Fayose is restoring all the privileges of former Governor Segun Oni. His portrait among those who have led the state that was removed from the Governor’s Office by former governor Kayode Fayemi has been returned. All those who served with him and whose portraits and other souvenirs were removed by the past administration such as former chief press secretaries among others, have been returned,” said Fayose’s aide.

“The Fayose administration appreciates the contributions of those who have led the state in the past and would not in anyway rubbish such. We are ready to acknowledge all and would not because of political differences rubbish what people have done in the past,” he added.

The move elicited mixed reactions from some senior lawyers. However, majority of them argued that it was wrong since in the face of the law, arising from the judgment of the appellate court, Oni’s administration never existed.

It is imperative to state here that former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan still enjoys the rights and privileges of a past head of state even though his government was sacked by Justice Dolapo Akinsanya (rtd).

A constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, took a swipe at the decision of the governor, saying he is not surprised by the latest decision from the Governor.
According to Sagay, “Everybody knows that Fayose is erratic, so nobody will be surprised by anything he does. He is a man full of antics and is an unguided missile, he can land anywhere at any time. So I’m not surprise at anything.”

In line with Sagay, another senior lawyer, Chief Morah Ekwunoh, said : “The governor’s decision is regrettable, and it is an action which can only be justified in politics”. He submitted that such decision cannot stand the test of the law.

“No doubt, the decision by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State to restore, in toto, the rights and privileges appurtenant to the person of  Oni as ex-governor of the state finds regrettable justification only in politics, and not law. This is because, from strict legal periscope and prism, his election, having been duly nullified by competent judicial process, the said election is seen as not  tohave ever existed or ever took place, ab initio, as to bring into being his entitlement to such rights and privileges as being conferred by Governor Fayose.

“Justification can only be situated in the unfortunate politics of the Governor’s penchant for political populism, and desire for much-needed strong political base and support from critical power brokers in the state, particularly bearing in mind his avalanche of problems since his second coming as Governor of Ekiti State.

“This conduct, among his numerous other conducts, deserve round condemnation and resistance for signaling and perpetuating executive impunity and lawlessness, to the immeasurable detriment and prejudice of the much larger majority of the down-trodden and voiceless Ekiti State citizenry who, in the first place, elected him for their overall good and welfare, and who are being let down at the infancy of his second coming,” he said.

Another senior constitutional lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, in a telephone  interview with Vanguard said there was nothing wrong with such decision, especially when Oni’s stay in office cannot be removed from record no matter how it was removed. He added that the process must be ratified by the state House of Assembly.

Fagboungbe  said: “It cannot be obliterated from permanent record that he was once a governor. It is on record but the mere fact that the court has nullified the session does not mean that his period is not part of the history of the state. It will remain the history of the state. And in any case if it is at the pleasure of the legislators to restore his benefits that is good for them. So nothing has gone wrong.”


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