Ekiti crisis: Appeal Court relocates to Ilorin

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The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has ordered the relocation of the Ado-Ekiti Division of the court to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

Sources said that the temporary relocation was due to the violence that erupted in the state in September when judges were attacked by political thugs.

Hearing in a petition by the All Progressives Congress against the then Governor-elect, Ayodele Fayose, was also disrupted when thugs started hurling stones at a petitioner counsel, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).

An official of the court said on Sunday that the Appeal Court would start sitting in Ilorin on Monday (today), just as the Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ado-Ekiti branch, Gbemiga Adaramola, and another lawyer, Kabiru Akingbolu, also confirmed the movement.

Akingbolu said, “It is true the court has been moved to Garin-Alimi, Ilorin. I have been served a hearing notice in one of my matters before the court.”

Adaramola said the NBA had concluded plans to visit the Presiding Justice of the Ekiti Division on Monday to plead for a reversal of the decision.

“We are going to meet with the Presiding Justice. There is peace in the state now so we want to go there and explore opportunities to bring the court sitting back to Ado-Ekiti in view of the peace that has returned to the state,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Special Assistant to Fayose, Owoseni Ajayi, has said that the Ekiti State High Court hearing the eligibility suit filed by the Ekiti Eleven had yet to transmit the record of proceedings to the Court of Appeal.

It was also gathered that the Chief Judge, Justice Ayodeji Adaramola, has yet to reassign the case file after it was returned to him by the trial judge, Justice Olusegun Ogunyemi.

Ajayi said the delay in the transmission of the record to the Court of Appeal might not be unconnected with the strike embarked upon by the judicial workers in the state.

Fayose had approached the Court of Appeal, Ado-Ekiti, to challenge the powers of the Ekiti State High Court to hear the case challenging his eligibility to contest the June 21 governorship election.

Justice Olusegun Ogunyemi, had on September 22 assumed jurisdiction and refused an application to set aside an order abridging the time for Fayose to file his defence in the case filed by members of the Ekiti-11, Adeniyi Ajakaiye and Olufemi Ajayi.

In the Notice of Appeal filed at the State High Court, Ado-Ekiti, Fayose through his team of lawyers led by Ahmed Raji (SAN), accused the trial judge of denying him fair hearing.

The respondents are, Ajakaiye, Ajayi, the Peoples Democratic Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Fayose also asked the judge to stay further proceedings in the suit pending the determination of the interlocutory appeal.

The motion on notice was brought pursuant to Order 39 Rules 1, Order 54 Rule 1 of Ekiti State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2011 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

Fayose stated that the judge erred in law to have assumed that he had become “functus officio” and thus could not set aside a ruling that granted the ex-parte.

He argued that he had 14 days within which to file and serve a counter-affidavit to the originating summons instead of the three days granted by the lower court against him.

He, therefore, asked the appellate court to set aside the order of the lower court delivered on the June 6, abridging the time within which he was to file and serve a counter-affidavit to the originating summons.

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