The judge handling the case filed against the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, has withdrawn from the suit.
The case, filed before Mr. Fayose was sworn-in as governor, is to challenge his eligibility for the governorship election.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Justice Olusegun Ogunyemi, who was handling the case, has withdrawn from it citing threats to his life.
Mr. Ogunyemi is said to have handed over the case file to the Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Ayodeji Daramola.
The judge, who had earlier returned the case file to Mr. Daramola, was reassigned the case last week.
An Ekiti-based pro-democracy group, the E-11, had gone to the court to challenge Mr. Fayose’s eligibility to contest the gubernatorial election which he won against the then incumbent, Kayode Fayemi, of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Mr. Fayose is a member of Nigeria’s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The PDP had petitioned the chief judge of the state, arguing that Mr. Ogunyemi may show bias in the case.
In the petition signed by the state Chairman of the party, Idowu Faleye, and addressed to Mr. Daramola, the PDP noted that going by the manner the case was previously handled by Mr. Ogunyemi, the governor and the PDP, who are defendants in the case, would not get justice.
“We are surprised; however, to be informed that the same judge, Justice Ogunyemi had resumed sitting over the same case he had voluntarily withdrawn from,” the PDP said.
“When we probed why the same judge, whose action caused unmitigated crisis in the state prior to the swearing in of the new governor of the state and a party in the case, we were informed that the National Judicial Commission, NJC, directed him to resume sitting over the case. However, our investigation at the NJC proved to the contrary.
Our source at the NJC asked a rhetorical question of when the NJC has become the assigning judge of cases pending before a state high court.”
Also, the counsel to Mr. Fayose, Ahmed Raji, has filed a motion seeking transfer of the case from Mr. Ogunyemi.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that following Mr. Ogunyemi’s withdrawal, judges in Ekiti are reluctant to take over the case.
The Ekiti State Government had on September 25 ordered the immediate closure of all state courts after thugs allegedly backing the then governor-elect, Mr. Fayose, descended on a court, attacking a judge and other staff.
The assailants attacked Justice John Adeyeye, beat him up and ripped his clothes for allegedly being rude to Mr. Fayose. The pandemonium that ensued scuttled the sitting of the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal billed for that day at the High court, Ado-Ekiti, as judicial workers abandoned their duty post and ran for safety, witnesses and the state judiciary authority had said.
That attack was the second that the week after thugs earlier stormed another court in Ado Ekiti and attacked Mr. Ogunyemi.
Mr. Daramola subsequent ordered all state courts to remain closed until adequate security measures were in place, a statement signed by the Chief Registrar, Obafemi Fasanmi, had indicated.
The registrar said police officers who were at the court did nothing to stop the second attack.