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Tribunal Nullifies Bayelsa Governorship Election, Diri To Appeal Ruling

Paul Nwachukwu and Oluchi Ibrahim-Anikoh  
Updated August 17, 2020
A collage of a gavel and Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri

 

The Bayelsa Governorship Election Tribunal on Monday nullified the election of Governor Douye Diri.

The Tribunal also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to order a fresh election within 90 days.

The verdict follows the petition by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) challenging the victory of Governor Diri in the November 19 governorship election.

The ANDP claimed that the party was unlawfully excluded from the election.

In a split judgement of two-one, the three-man panel ruled that INEC does not have the power to disqualify any candidate for an election.

INEC in its argument had said that the party’s Deputy Governorship candidate was 34-year-old as at the time of nomination and therefore did not qualify to contest the election.

ANDP told Justice Yunusa Musa, who delivered the lead judgment 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 Musa in his response said that 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.

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Muhammad Sirajo, however, dismissed the petition on technical grounds.

Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri

I’ll Appeal Tribunal’s Ruling

Governor Diri in his reaction has revealed that he will appeal the ruling by the tribunal nullifying his election as governor of the state.

He also said that he has instructed his lawyers to file the necessary papers.

Governor Diri disclosed this shortly after the tribunal ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wrongly excluded the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) governorship candidate in the November 2019 election.

The governor said he has implicit confidence in the judiciary and he would triumph at the end.

Tribunal Dismisses Three Petitions

Last Saturday, the tribunal dismissed three petitions filed against Governor Douye Diri challenging his victory.

The three-man panel took the decision in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Owodunni.

The tribunal held that the petition filed by Owei Woniwei of the Alliance for Democracy is incompetent and lacks merit.

According to the Tribunal, the petitioner failed to prove the allegations of the forged declaration of age and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharged certificate levelled against the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence.

The second judgment between Ibiene Stephen versus the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Duoye Diri, his deputy and PDP was also heard by Justice Yunusa Musa.

The Tribunal dismissed United Peoples Congress’ petition challenging Governor Diri’s election.