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BREAKING: Tribunal Nullifies Bayelsa Guber Polls, Orders Fresh Election In 90 Days

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Douye Dire

The Bayelsa State Gubernatorial Petition Tribunal has nullified the election of Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State.

The Tribunal also ordered INEC to order a fresh election within 90 days.

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

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 is claiming that the party was unlawfully excluded from the election.

But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in its argument said that the party’s Deputy Governorship candidate was 34 years old as at the time of nomination and therefore did not qualify to contest the election.

ANDP told Justice Yunusa Musa who is delivering 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 adds that only a court has the power to disqualify any candidate for any election and that the petition was filed within the 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 lead judgment nullified the election of Governor Douye Diri and directed INEC to include the ANDP in the Election.

The lead judgement was read by a member of the panel and the judgement of the majority insisted that the election of Governor Douye Diri be nullified.

After listening, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Muhammad Sirajo dismissed the petition on technical grounds.

He noted that the technical grounds is that the petition is a pre-election matter.

The tribunal ruling can, however, still be challenged at the appeal court.

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 separte parties on Saturday.

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).

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Supreme Court, 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
Tribunal Ruling.

In a unanimous decision on Saturday, a three-member panel of the 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.

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