By Wandoo Sombo
Abuja, Oct. 2, 2020 The Court of Appeal Court sitting in Abuja on Friday, affirmed the election of Gov. Duoye Diri of Bayelsa and set aside the judgment of the Bayelsa Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which nullified Diri’s election.
A five -member panel of justices of the court reversed the nullification of Diri’s election on the grounds that the petition filed by the Advanced Nigerian Democratic Party, (ANDP), which led to the nullification, was statute barred.
The panel in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Obande Ogbunya, held that the majority judgment of the tribunal erred in law when it held that the petition of the ANDP was not statute barred.
The tribunal had in a two-to-one judgment on Aug.17 annulled the Nov. 16, 2019 Governorship Election in Bayelsa on the grounds that the ANDP was excluded from the poll.
The tribunal had consequently ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.
Diri, however, approached the appellate court to set aside the majority judgment on the grounds that it was flawed.
The appellate court held that there was enough evidence to show that the case of the ANDP was statute barred, the party, having not filed its petition within 14 days as stipulated by law.
Ogbunya in the judgment, agreed with Diri, the appellant, that the case of the ANDP which ought to be filed within 14 days was filed five months after the cause of event.
On another grounds of appeal, Justice Ogbunya also agreed with the appellant that INEC was right in excluding the ANDP from the Nov. 16 governorship poll.
This was on grounds of disqualification of the ANDP’s deputy governorship candidate, who was said to be under age at the time of the election.
Justice Ogbunya held that on the whole, Diri’s case had merit and he subsequently affirmed his election as governor of Bayelsa.
He further set aside the majority judgment of the tribunal that nullified the Nov. 16 governorship poll and ordered fresh elections.