Ekiti - A High Court in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday ordered the immediate reinstatement of the chairman and members of the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC).
The members were sacked on Oct. 22, 2010 by Gov. Kayode Fayemi.
The court, presided over by Justice John Adeyeye declared that Fayemi acted ultra-vires by sacking the commission members via radio announcements.
In suit number HAD/121/2010, the SIEC Chairman, Maj. Gen. Kayode Oni (rtd.), and four others had asked the court to declare the governor’s action as unlawful, unconstitutional, oppressive and ultra-vires.
The plaintiffs through their counsel, Mr Obafemi Adewale, also asked the court to set aside the purported dissolution of the commission and order their reinstatement.
The counsel averred that the appointment of Kayode Oni and other members was constitutional.
He cited Sections 197, 198, 199 and 201 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and other legal authorities to support his argument.
Delivering judgment, Justice Adeyeye said that the governor had no powers whatsoever to sack the commission members, whose tenure was put at five years by the constitution.
The judge resolved all issues raised by the plaintiffs in their favour and also granted their reliefs.
The reliefs include their return to office, not withstanding whether the positions had been filled or whether plaintiffs had taken other appointments elsewhere.
Adeyeye dismissed the two preliminary objections earlier raised by counsel to the defendants, Dayo Akinlaja, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, also a defendant in the suit.
The judge said that the plaintiffs had reasonable cause of action.
He said that the amendment to Section 254 of the Constitution, which ousted the jurisdiction of the State High Court and gave it to National Industrial Court was not in force when the matter arose in 2010.
On whether former Governor Segun Oni had powers to appoint chairman and members of the commission, the judge answered in the affirmative.
He cited the case of Balonwu vs Governor of Anambra State and Section 168 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011, which bordered on presumption of regularity, to buttress it.
Commenting on the judgment, one of the SIEC members, Mr Sesan Akinola, said that the coast was clear for the conduct of local government elections in the state.
``We will issue notice of elections in accordance with Electoral Act very soon,” he said.
Akinola said that the SIEC would liaise with the state government on the conduct of the council election and promised all parties in the state of level playing ground.
The State Attorney General, who had been the lead counsel to the defendants was not in court.
However, a top legal officer in his ministry said that the government would appeal against the judgment.