The Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Douye Diri, speaking on Friday’s separate Court of Appeal victories in favour of him and his deputy, Mr. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has described them as an evidence of God behind his government.
Diri said this in a statement released by his acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah. In the statement, Diri applauded the Court of Appeal for upholding the law and dispensing justice to all.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Friday, overturned the August 17, 2020 verdict of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal. The tribunal had sacked Diri from office and ordered that a fresh poll be conducted within 90 days.
A five-person panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Adezila Mshelia unanimously agreed to aside the tribunal’s verdict affirming Diri’s election in its judgment delivered on Friday.
The three-person election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja had, in a split decision of two-to-one, nullified the November 16, 2019, Bayelsa State governorship election due to the unlawful exclusion of the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party and its candidate, King George, from the exercise.
In response, Diri; his party, the Peoples Democratic Party; and the Independent National Electoral Commission had filed separate appeals against the tribunal’s judgment.
Justice Obande Ogbuinya delivered the Court of Appeal’s judgment on Friday as the court’s lead. The court held that the ANDP’s case was a pre-election matter which should have been filed at the regular court within 14 days of realizing that it had allegedly been excluded from the election unlawfully.
Justice Ogbuinya further agreed with the appellants that INEC had the power to disqualify any candidate who failed to meet the requirements for participating in an election.
The court also dismissed the appeal filed by Mr. Ebizimo Diriyai, the candidate of the Accord Party. This was because the allegation of certificate forgery leveled against the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt as required by law on criminal allegations.
Justice Folasade Ojo, delivering the lead judgment, agreed with Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN) that the Accord Party’s case was a pre-election matter statute-barred and incompetent, having been filed outside 14 days stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.
The court, thus, dismissed the Accord’s Party appeal and its governorship candidate in its entirety for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
The court further gave the same reason for dismissing the petition filed by the Alliance for Democracy and Liberation Movement alongside their governorship candidates.
Responding to the judgment, Diri said, “I want to thank God for this victory. Today, a Daniel came to judgment in the name of the Court of Appeal, which has given the true position of the law and we are happy about it.”