The Supreme Court has upheld the election of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
In a unanimous judgment on Friday, a five-man panel of the court dismissed the appeal filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last governorship election in Ekiti, Kolapo Olusola Eleka.
The PDP and Eleka had appealed the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the decision of the Justice Suleiman Belgore-led election tribunal that held that Fayemi was validly elected.
In the lead judgment by Justice John Okoro, the court held that the appeal was unmeritorious and proceeded to uphold an earlier judgment by the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which affirmed the decision of the election tribunal, to the effect that Fayemi was validly elected.
Justice Okoro said he could not interfere with the concurrent findings of the two lower courts both – the trial tribunal and the Court of Appeal – because the appellants (PDP and Olusola-Eleka) failed to establish that both lower courts erred and misapplied the law in their judgments.
The judge said: “I have carefully considered the issues canvassed by all the parties to the appeal. I am satisfied to hold that there is no merit in this appeal.
“It has to be noted that the two courts below are concurrent in their findings. It is trite that this court is always very hesitant to interfere with concurrent findings of two lower courts unless their findings are shown to be manifestly erroneous.
“Only where the appellant has established that clear errors of law or facts which application leads to miscarriage of justice that this court can interfere to reverse the concurrent findings.
“As I have said earlier, there is no merit in this appeal, and is accordingly dismissed. I affirm the judgment of the lower court and I make no other as to cost.”
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, Justices Olukayode Ariwoola, Paul Galumje and Uwani Abba-Aji (who were also on the panel), agreed with the lead judgment.
The Justice Belgore-led Governorship Election Tribunal, that sat in Apo, Abuja had, in its judgment on January 28, 2019 the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that Fayemi and the APC won the July 14, 2018 governorship election with a total of 197,459 votes as against the 178,121 votes scored by PDP’s Olusola-Eleka.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, to which the PDP and Olusola-Eleka appealed the decision of the trial tribunal, dismissed the appeal in its judgment of March 28, 2019.
Justice Stephen Adah, who read the lead judgment of a three-man panel, resolved the seven issues, identified for determination, against the appellants.
Justice Adah proceeded to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that it was without merit, a decision the two other members of the panel – Justices Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson and Emmanuel Agim – agreed with.