Appeal Court Upholds Diri’s Election As Bayelsa Governor

A five-man panel of the Appellate Court has overturned a ruling which nullified the election of Douye Diri as governor of Bayelsa State.

The court held that the Bayelsa Election Petition Tribunal acted outside its jurisdiction by nullifying the election of Governor Diri.

In a unanimous judgment, the five-man panel of the court said the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party failed woefully to show that it had a valid candidate that was unlawfully excluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The court berated the tribunal for ignoring the fact that the petition of ANDP was status barred in addition to the fact that the party presented an unqualified candidate to INEC in the November 16, 2019 Governorship election in Bayelsa State.

Mr Diri approached the Appeal Court after the majority judgment of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Tribunal nullified his election on 12 grounds, following a petition by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP).

In its petition, the ANDP claimed that the party was unlawfully excluded from the election. The party insisted that its initial Deputy Governorship Candidate, David Esinkuma was duly substituted by the party within the allowed time frame, following the notification from INEC that he’s under-age.

Justice Yunusa Musa, who delivered the lead judgment in the petition against Governor Diri said INEC has no power to disqualify any candidate and insists that the petition of the ANDP stands.

He also added that only a court has the power to disqualify any candidate for any election and that the petition was filed within 21 days, which is the stipulated time for petitions to be filed.

Justice Musa described the action of INEC to exclude the ANDP from the Bayelsa Governorship Election as illegal, hence leading to the decision to nullify Governor Diri’s election, a judgment which the appellate court has now overturned.

Deborah Adegoke

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