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Monday, September 20, 2021

Bayelsa Election: Court fixes September 14 to hear Diri’s appeal

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has fixed September 14 for the hearing in the appeal filed by the Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri.

Diri is challenging the judgement of the State Governorship Election Tribunal which nullified his election on 12 grounds.

At the hearing on Thursday, some factional members of the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) brought an application to be joined as parties in the appeal.

Counsel to the ANDP, Kehinde Ogunwumiju informed the court that a notice of preliminary objection which is challenging the competence of the application has been filed.

Justice Stephen Adah, who is the head of the three-man panel hearing the appeal ruled that at the next date, parties will be allowed to respond to the application filed by factional members of the ANDP.

The Court also awarded a cost of N200,000 against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the inconveniences it has caused the ANDP over the PDP’s withdrawal of a brief of argument it filed on September 3, on the ground that a new brief of argument has been filed.

The Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) in its petition challenging the victory of Governor Diri in the November 19 governorship election claimed that the party was unlawfully excluded from the election.

In a split judgement of two-one, the three-man panel ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not have the power to disqualify any candidate for an election.

But INEC in its argument had said that the party’s Deputy Governorship candidate was 34-year-old as at the time of nomination and therefore did not qualify to contest the election.

ANDP told Justice Yunusa Musa, who delivered 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 was 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.

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

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