Tribunal nullifies Diri’s election as Governor of Bayelsa

THE Bayelsa State Gubernatorial Petition Tribunal on Monday, annulled the election of  Duoye Diri, Governor of the state over a petition submitted by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP).

The ANDP in its petition submitted that it was unlawfully stopped from taking part in the election.

The party had been excluded by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on the ground that the party’s deputy governorship candidate, David Esinkuma, was 34-year-old at the time of his nomination and thus was unqualified to contest the election.

The ANDP in defence stated that it had substituted the candidate after getting notification from INEC.

Justice Yunusa Musa, who delivered the lead judgement on Monday said that INEC has no authority to disqualify any candidate, ruling  that the petition by the ANDP stands.

Diri who was the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election was sworn in as governor of Bayelsa State following the sack of David Lyon of the All Progressive Congress, (APC) by the Supreme court on February 13.

Lyon who was declared winner of the election was sacked due to inconsistencies found in documents presented by Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, his deputy, to INEC.

Following the nullification of the elections, Diri who polled second highest number of votes at 143,172 emerged as governor of the state. Lyon polled 352,552 votes.

In the last two days,  Diri’s emergence as governor of Bayelsa State has been come under challenge in courts.




     

     

    A three-man tribunal at the weekend dismissed petitions filed by the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the United People’s Congress (UPC) and the Liberation Movement (LM), all challenging the victory of Diri.

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    The three petitions questioned the authenticity of documents submitted by Diri’s deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, but in delivering the lead judgment, Justice S.M Owoduni, had stated that the petitions were incompetent and lacked merit.

    However, having found the petition of ANDP worthy, the tribunal moved to nullify Diri’s election as governor on Monday.

    The Tribunal has ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.

    Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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