Duoye Diri has filed an appeal challenging the decision of the Bayelsa state governorship election petition tribunal which sacked him from office as governor of the state.
In a split judgment on Monday, two out of three judges had upheld the petition filed by Lucky King-George, candidate of the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), on grounds that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong to have excluded the party from the November 16, 2019 governorship election.
The tribunal ordered INEC to conduct a fresh poll in the state within 90 days.
However, Ibrahim Sirajo, chairman of the tribunal, in his dissenting judgment, dismissed ANDP’s petition.
Diri, through his counsel, Chris Uche, on Tuesday, filed a notice of appeal containing 11 grounds.
The appellant submitted that the tribunal erred in law when it held that ANDP’s petition was not statute-barred.
According to him, the petitioners ought to have filed their petition within 21 days from when the cause of action arose on November 16, 2019, being the election day from which they claimed to have been excluded. Rather, the petition was filed more than five months after.
On the second ground of appeal, Diri claimed that “the tribunal erred in law when it held that the first respondent’s (ANDP) candidates were validly nominated.”
He stated that the ANDP had informed INEC of its candidates through a letter which is insufficient and does not amount to a valid nomination.
He also accused the party of not conducting a proper primary election as the date and mode of the election was not stated in compliance with the electoral act.
On the third ground, Diri noted that the tribunal erred when it held that INEC had unlawfully excluded the candidate of the ANDP.
Rather, Diri said INEC had in a letter dated September 13, 2019, only informed the party that the nomination of David Esinkuma was invalid for being below the constitutionally required age of 35.
He said knowing that the nomination of candidates closed on September 9, 2019, the party still went ahead to forward the name of Inowei Janet as a substitute for Esinkuma on September 23, 2019.
Another ground of appeal was that the tribunal erred in law when it held in its majority judgment that ANDP had the locus standi to file and maintain its petition.
He added that it is erroneous for the tribunal to have held in the majority judgment that ANDP’s case is not a pre-election matter, noting that by virtue of section 285(14)(c) of the constitution, the allegation of disqualification from an election is a ground for pre-election and not post-election matter.
Diri argued that the evidence laid out by the first and second prosecution witnesses did not support the petitioner’s claim of unlawful exclusion, and that the tribunal merely speculated on facts that the party had failed to prove.
The appellant urged the court to “set aside the entire majority decision of the tribunal (per Hon. Justice Yunsa Musa and Hon. Justice S.M. Owodunni) appealed against and to dismiss the 1st respondent’s petition.”
He also urged the court to “uphold the minority judgment of the chairman of the Bayelsa state governorship election petition tribunal, Hon. Justice Muhammed I. Sirajo which clearly appreciated the law and correctly applied the same to the facts, and rightly dismissed the petition.”
Diri, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was sworn in as governor after the supreme court sacked David Lyon as governor-elect 24 hours before his inauguration.
The apex court based its ruling on the premise that Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo, running mate of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), presented forged certificates to INEC.
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