by Segun Odeleye
On Monday, pandemonium broke out on the premises of the Ekiti state High Court. It involved a case brought on behalf of an Ekiti socio=political group, Ekiti-11, by a member, Felix Ajakaiye, challenging the eligibility of the Ekiti governor-elect, Ayo Fayose, to contest the June 21 governorship election, which Fatose eventually contested and won.
The case is one which could have serious implications for the state as a ruling against Fayose would be a big blow to the PDP which just took back the state from the hands of the APC after Fayose defeated the incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi.
The invasion of the court premises by hoodlums was however reminiscent of the old days in Ekiti when violence and thuggery were a frequent occurrence.
Our friends at The Punch have a report on what really happened in the court that led to the invasion.
The invasion took place shortly after the judge, Justice Olusegun Ogunyemi, refused an application to set aside an order abridging the time for the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate to file his defence in the case filed on behalf of socio-political group, Ekiti-11 by a member, Mr. Femi Ajakaiye.
The judge had adjourned sitting till 12 noon to prepare a ruling in a similar matter filed by the Citizen Popular Party before trouble started.
As he was preparing to return for the continuation of the matter, angry youths besieged the court. The judge was smuggled out of the chambers through the back door to avoid being lynched by the aggressors.
Judges, lawyers and others in court, including journalists, ran for their lives as the protesters went berserk and went after perceived opponents of the PDP.
It could not be confirmed if the police made any arrest.
The hoodlums numbering about a hundred were aggrieved about the perceived partiality of the judge handling the case.
In the ensuing melee, the Chairman of Ado West Local Council Development Authority, Mr. Sunday Ibitoye, and Ajakaye, were attacked.
The hoodlums had earlier engaged in an argument with securitry officials in the court room for preventing some of them from entering the court while allowing others in.
The rampaging youths, who called the trial judge all sorts of unprintable names, alleged that he was partial in handling the matter for showing interest beyond official reasons.
The judge, who had assumed jurisdiction in the case had ruled that he could not reverse his decision to abridge the time as the court had become “functus officio” having taken a decision on the issue.
Contrary to the argument by the PDP, the court said the decision to abridge the time did not contravene Section 32 of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Ogunyemi said the PDP and Fayose failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the reasons why the court could not hear the substantive suit.
The judge consequently dismissed the PDP’s application, saying the court could not set aside its own ruling of June 6, and that the time frame had been overtaken by events, which he maintained had rendered the whole exercise a mere academic exercise.
Commenting, the Interim Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Jide Awe, said, “We are back to the Idi Amin era in Ekiti where judges and lawyers are attacked in court. This is terrible.
“But the APC has no case in the court and we were not there to witness the attack.”
Also commenting, the PDP Publicity Secretary, Kola Oluwawole, urged Justice Ogunyemi to steer clear of the case alleging that he had connived with the ruling APC.
Accusing the judge of bias, Oluwawole said, “The judge openly demonstrated in his ruling that he has jurisdiction on the matter and simultaneously commenced hearing of the matter without giving the respondent the opportunity to signify an appeal.
“The PDP also condemns the barbaric action of the APC thugs who attacked voters that voluntarily voted for Ayo Fayose in the last governorship election.”