Abuja — The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mariam Aloma Muhktar, yesterday, assumed jurisdiction over the protracted legal tussle between Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and his predecessor, Chief Segun Oni, even as she ordered immediate service of hearing notice on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Though Oni, who was represented by three Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, and 34 other lawyers led by Chief G.K Gadzama, SAN, expressed his desire to have his appeal heard on its merit yesterday, the CJN insisted that the electoral commission ought to be present in court.
According to the CJN, who chaired a seven-man panel of Justices that heard the case, "for the fact that INEC is listed as a party in this suit, whether it had earlier acted as a nominal or non-interested party at the lower court is not of any importance to this court, what matters is that one way or the other, it will be affected by any decision that will be taken by this court.
Both Oni and Fayemi who also addressed the court, yesterday, through his counsel, Mr John Bayisha, SAN, had told the apex court that since the case commenced at the lower court, INEC neither entered any appearance in court nor filed any process for or against the suit even though it was joined as a party.
Consequently, the CJN ordered the Supreme Court Registrar to ensure that all the court papers and the hearing notice were served on the electoral body before March 4, when the case was subsequently adjourned to.
Specifically, Oni had approached the Supreme Court, challenging the nullification of his election as well as the declaration of Fayemi as the validly elected governor in the 2007 and 2009 elections in Ekiti State.
Oni had earlier approached the Ado Ekiti Division of the Appeal Court to seek a re-trial of the case filed against his election by Fayemi which eventually resulted to his ouster from office on October 15, 2010.
The former governor had in his appeal, alleged that the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, PCA, Justice Ayo Salami, was not fit to preside over the appeal panel that sat in Ilorin and nullified his election. insisting that he had evidence proving that Salami was engaged in an amourous convivial romance with a top member of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, a relationship he said culminated to the favourable verdict handed down to Fayemi.
However, the appellate court dismissed Oni's suit as lacking in merit, stressing that the reliefs he sought could not be granted, a decision he is currently challenging at the Supreme Court.