Legal practitioners in Ekiti State have condemned the action of Ayo Fayose, Ekiti State governor, for barring Dr. Kayode Fayemi, his predecessor in office, from holding public office for 10 years through a White Paper.
The lawyers, who commented on the matter at different fora, said the Governor had become a law to himself.
Ibrahim Olanrewaju, a lawyer based in Ado-Ekiti, described the development as most unfortunate, most especially coming from a governor who claimed to be an apostle of due process and rule of law.
“Governor Ayo Fayose cannot stop Dr. Kayode Fayemi from contesting if he (Fayemi) so wishes because Fayose cannot constitute himself into a court of law.
“For the benefit of discerning Nigerians, I want to read an extract from the decision of Supreme Court in ACN V INEC & Ors. The apex court says, “The disqualification in Section 137(1)(i) clearly involves a deprivation of right and a presumption of guilt for embezzlement or fraud in derogation of the safeguards in Section 36(1) and (5) of the Constitution.
“The trial and conviction by a court is the only constitutionally permitted way to prove guilt and therefore the only ground for the imposition of criminal punishment or penalty for the offences of criminal embezzlement of fraud.
“Clearly, the imposition of the penalty of disqualification for the criminal offences of embezzlement or fraud, solely on the basis of indictment for these offences, by an Administrative Panel of Inquiry implies a presumption of guilt contrary to Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
“I say that convictions for offences and imposition of penalties and punishments are matters appertaining exclusively to judicial power. (See Sokefun v Akinyemi (1981) 1 NCLR 135 and Garba v University of Maiduguri (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt 18) at 550.”
Another Lawyer, Kolade Ilesanmi, said: “Supporters of Fayose who are already rejoicing over their kangaroo panel report banning Fayemi should read the Supreme Court judgment on Atiku Abubakar v FGN where the apex court ruled that only a competent court of law can ban Nigerians from contesting elections.
“The judgment is a precedent that no panel, tribunal, High Courts and Appeal Court can annul until it gets to the Supreme Court.
“If Fayose calls his moles in Ekiti courts that have been giving him reckless rulings to detain, victimise suspects endlessly even in bailable cases to endorse his panel report, there is a chance to appeal the judgment at Appeal Court up to the Supreme Court and this can last years.
“During the pendency of the case in courts, the plaintiff is entitled to his right to contest election. Head or tail, a desperate Fayose will fail in his subterfuge.”
Mr. Kolawole Olaiya, lawyer and former Ekiti State Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) said, “Fayose is a puppet governor and deceit is what he knows best. He has no moral justification for that matter, to probe anybody or Dr. Fayemi for that matter.
“Which governor probed him for the N1.4 billion poultry scam and diversion of local government funds during his first tenure in office?
“Every actor on his panel should consider himself ripe for retirement from service because of the reward they got for the hatchet job they were used to do.”
Pastor Ade Kolade, State Coordinator, JKF Movement, “Fayose is a joker of our time; the outcome of the kangaroo panel is laughable. What type of evil man is this accidental governor who claims to be holy but is full of evil machinations?
“One thing I know is that he who God had made cannot be destroyed by man. Dr. Kayode Fayemi is a God-made man.”
Olumide Jegede, an APC member said, “The only person that is giving Ayo Fayose a serious problem and nightmare is Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
“Remove him (Fayemi) from the list (of contestants) today, Fayose will celebrate till Election Day. But what Fayose fails to realise is that what goes round comes round.”