By Lazarus Ortiv Ikerave
Today five-man panel of Justices of the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, reversed the nullification of the November 16 governorship election in which Senator Duoye Diri emerged as governor of Bayelsa State.
The judgment delivered by the five man council unanimously by Justice Obande Ogbunya, held that, the majority judgment of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, erred in law when it held that the petition of the Advanced Nigerian Democratic Party (ANDP) was not statute barred.
The tribunal had in a two-to-one judgment in August annulled the election of November 16, 2019 Governorship Election in Bayelsa State based on the grounds of the exclusion of the ANDP from the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission tribunal consequently ordered the conduct a fresh election that will include the ANDP governorship candidate within a range of 90 days.
In this manner Hon. Diri earlier approached the appellate court to set aside the majority judgment on the grounds that the majority judgment was flawed.
Passing judgment at the appeal on Friday, the appellate court held that there was enough evidence to show that the case of the first respondent (ANDP) was statute barred because it was not filed within 14 days as the law prescribed.
Justice Obande Ogbunya in the judgment aligned with the appellant that the case of the ANDP was a pre-election matter which was supposed to be filed within 14 days as stipulated in the law but was rather filed five months after words.
In another state of appeal, Justice Ogbunya equally agreed with the appellant that INEC was right in absenting the ANDP from the November 16 governorship poll on grounds of disqualification of the ANDP’s Deputy Governorship candidate, whom the law described as under age at the time of the election.
Comprehensively, Justice Ogbunya held that the case of the appellant had merit hence went ahead to set aside the majority judgment of the tribunal that annulled the November 16 governorship poll.
The Court of Appeal equally affirmed the election of Diri as Bayelsa state Governor.