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Bayelsa : Diri files appeal against tribunal judgement

Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State yesterday filed 11 grounds of appeal against Monday’s judgment of the state’s governorship election petition tribunal which sacked him from office. The majority decision of the tribunal had nullified Diri’s election and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a fresh poll within 90 days. The three-man tribunal, in a split decision of two-toone, had the majority nullify the November 16, 2019 election as a result of the unlawful exclusion of the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party and its candidate, King George, from the exercise. Two judges on the panel – Justices Yunusa Musa and Sikiru Owoduni – in upholding the petition filed by the ANDP, held that INEC lacked the power to exclude any party from an election.

But the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, in his dissenting judgment, dismissed ANDP’s petition. Diri, through his lead counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), yesterday, filed a notice of appeal containing 11 grounds at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, contending that the judges who delivered the tribunal’s majority judgment erred in law.

He urged the court to set aside the majority judgment and affirm Justice Sirajo’s minority judgment of the tribunal. The appellant contended among others, that the tribunal erred in law when it held that ANDP’s petition was not statute-barred. According to the appellant, the cause of action arose on November 16, 2019, being the election day from which ANDP claimed to have been excluded and the party had 21 days within which to file their petition but did not file the petition until more than five months after. He maintained that the ANDP’s petition was statutebarred, in breach of the provisions of section 285(5) of the Nigerian Constitution.

He also argued that the tribunal erred in its majority judgment that ANDP’s candidates for the November 16, 2019 election were validly nominated. He contended that INEC never rejected or disqualified the candidates of ANDP in its September 13, 2019 letter but merely informed the party that the nomination of its candidates “was invalid for the reason of their being underage and below the constitutional age threshold”.

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