Tribunal nullifies Bayelsa governorship election
The Bayelsa State Gubernatorial Petition Tribunal has nullified the election of Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State.
The election was nullified based on a petition by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), which argued that it was unlawfully excluded from participating in the election.
The tribunal ruling can, however, still be challenged at the appeal court.
More details on the tribunal’s Monday ruling will be provided in subsequent updates.
The ANDP had through its governorship candidate, King Lucky George, and National Chairman, Charles Ogboli, approached the tribunal seeking the nullification of the November 19, 2019 governorship election.
The party demanded an order for fresh election on the grounds that its name and logo were excluded from the ballot papers used for the election.
The counsel to the party, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), told the tribunal that INEC witnessed and monitored its governorship primary and that it was curious and unacceptable that the electoral body later excluded it from the election.
The counsel to INEC, Ibrahim Bawa (SAN), told the tribunal that after examining the evidence tabled by the petitioners, the commission preferred not to call any witness.
The lawyers for the PDP, Emmanuel Enoidem, and Governor Diri of Bayelsa, Gordy Uche (SAN), spoke along the same line, saying instead of calling witnesses, they would submit documents to the tribunal.
The ANDP was registered as a political party on August 14, 2018, along with 23 other parties. However, it was deregistered in on February 6, 2020, for failing to meet the guidelines stipulated by the constitution which expect parties to at least win a seat any of the elections conducted -presidential, governorship, chairmanship or councillorship.
The affected parties, including ANDP, are now in court challenging their deregistration.
Monday’s ruling comes two days after the tribunal dismissed three other petitions against the election of Mr Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the three-member tribunal dismissed the three petitions filed by separate parties on Saturday.
Read our story on Saturday rulings below.
The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Saturday, dismissed three petitions against Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and affirmed him the duly elected governor of the state.
The petitions dismissed by the tribunal were filed by the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the United People’s Congress (UPC) and the Liberation Movement (LM).
On February 13, sacked David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the governor-elect barely 24 hours to his inauguration.
The apex court based its rulings on the premise that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the November 16 governorship election in the state.
The apex court then ordered INEC to declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread the winner of the election. Mr Diri was later sworn in as governor
In a unanimous decision on Saturday, a three-member panel of the Bayelsa Election Tribunal dismissed three petitions challenging Mr Diri’s victory.
The judge, S.M. Owoduni, who read the lead judgment of the tribunal held that the petition filed by AD and its candidate, Owei Woniwei, is incompetent and lacks merit.
Justice Owoduni held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegation that Mr Diri’s deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, forged his declaration of age and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharged certificate.
The second petition filed by Ibiene Stephen and his party, UPC and the one filed by the candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM), Vijah Opuama, were also dismissed.
Mr Opuama had filed his petition to challenge the declaration Messrs Diri and Ewhrudjakpo as governor and deputy.
He also alleged that Mr Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged exemption certificate and documents that contain false information to INEC. He is asking the tribunal to cancel the election and order a fresh poll.