The governorship election petition tribunal in Bayelsa State nullified the election of Governor Douye Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
In a majority judgment delivered by Justice Yunusa Musa in the petition brought before it by the Advance National Democratic Party (ANDP), the tribunal ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) erred when it excluded the party from the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state.
INEC has now been ordered to conduct a fresh governorship election in Bayelsa State within 90 days; with the ANDP participating this time.
Gov. Douye Diri, in a swift reaction, stated he had instructed his lawyers to file the necessary papers for an appeal. Diri, in a statement, titled, ‘I have instructed my lawyers to appeal tribunal ruling,’ issued by his acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said he had implicit confidence in the judiciary that he would triumph in the end.
Diri is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He emerged Bayelsa Governor in February after the Supreme Court sacked David Lyon of the APC who was declared the winner after the 2019 vote.
Lyon’s running mate was deemed guilty of presenting documents riddled with discrepancies.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has made a stunning revelation about the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) which made the Bayelsa Election Tribunal annul last year’s election.
Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said the party’s nomination for the election was invalid.
He also said the party did not exercise its right guaranteed in the Fourth Alteration to the constitution by filing its suit within 14 days of the accrual of the said right.
The Bayelsa Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja had on Monday 17th, August 2020 nullified the election of Governor Duoye Diri.
Delivering the majority judgment of the tribunal, Justice Musa ruled that INEC lacked the power to disqualify any party from an election for whatever reason.
He held that the first deputy governorship candidate was validly nominated following a valid primary election conducted by the party.
“The exclusion is void ab initio. The deputy governorship candidate stands. It is not a duty of INEC to disqualify him. It is the duty of the court. INEC cannot screen a candidate, its duty is to supervise.”
On the contention that the petitioner’s case was statute-barred having not been filed within 14 days of being notified by INEC that it would not participate in the election, Justice Musa held that the cause of action only arose after February 14, 2020, when the Supreme Court delivered the judgment that ushered in Diri as governor.
The Justice Mohammed Sirajo-led three-man panel ruled that the election was unlawful due to the exclusion of Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) and its candidate, King George, from the November 16, 2019 governorship election.
The tribunal ordered INEC to conduct a bye-election within 90 days.