Falana, SANs disagree with Ozekhome on Fayose’s re-election bid


Some senior lawyers appear to hold different views on the possibility of the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, getting the nod of the court to contest the state governorship election in 2018.

Fayose had said on Monday that he would contest the 2018 governorship election so that he could serve out his first term which was truncated in 2006.
The governor was impeached in 2006, but the Supreme Court, in 2014, nullified the impeachment that ousted him from office about seven months to the end of his first term, describing the removal as illegal.
Speaking on a live broadcast on Ekiti State Television in Ado-Ekiti, on Monday, Fayose argued that since the apex court had declared that his impeachment in 2006 was illegal, he would then have to approach the same court to interpret what the ruling meant and also consider seeking re-election in 2018.
But human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate on Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, described as anomalous the likely bid by Fayose to seek re-election in the Ekiti State governorship poll in 2018.
While Falana, Emeka Ngige (SAN); Sebastine Hon (SAN); Paul Ananaba (SAN) and a Lagos-based legal practitioner, Jiti Ogunye, argued that Fayose’s bid was unconstitutional and bound to fail, another SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome, believed the court could grant Fayose the opportunity to serve out the seven months remaining in his first term before he was impeached.
Falana said Fayose’s bid to seek re-election would amount to tenure elongation which no court could grant.
The senior advocate stated, “Tenure extension by a governor under any disguise is anomalous. No court can prolong the tenure of a sitting governor beyond the two terms prescribed by the Constitution.
“In the case of Governor Rasheed Ladoja v INEC, the appellant wanted an extension of his term of office to allow him to spend extra 11 months while he was fighting his impeachment from outside.
“Although the Supreme Court had set aside his impeachment, it was held that the relief was illegal and unconstitutional.
“Similarly, the governors who were re-elected after their initial election was annulled, the Supreme Court made it abundantly clear that tenure extension was unknown to the Constitution.
“In view of the settled position of the law on the matter, Governor Ayo Fayose’s request cannot be granted by any court in Nigeria.”
Ngige argued that antecedents showed that the court could not grant the request of the governor.
The senior advocate added, “My own understanding is that based on the Supreme Court decisions on former governor Peter Obi versus the Independent National Electoral Commission, and former governor Rasheed Ladoja against the (Oyo) state House of Assembly, Fayose is not eligible to contest  another term.
“The then Oyo State governor had complained to the court about his impeachment by the state House of Assembly, which truncated his tenure, and later voided, and sought to extend his tenure by the number of days to reclaim his mandate; but the Supreme Court told him pointedly that it was not possible.
“The same thing applies to Fayose. He had taken an oath of office, whether rightly or wrongly but he was impeached along the line and later, the impeachment was voided by the court. But that is not to say that the tenure did not run.
“However, I think the governor is perfectly entitled to seek for judicial interpretation of his eligibility to contest another term of office. It is a democratic sense to do that. He can try his luck.”


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