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Why Supreme Court upheld Diris election as Bayelsa Governor

Published by The Nation on Wed, 18 Nov 2020

Eric Ikhilae, AbujaThe Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed six appeals filed against the election of Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Governor of Bayelsa State.A seven-man panel of the court led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, in its first decision, dismissed the appeal by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) following its withdrawal by the appellant.The court noted that the appellants claim of the wrong disqualification of its candidate by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrongly made because the said candidate did not meet the constitutional age requirement in the first place.The appeal was marked: SC/775/2020. Other appeals dismissed on Wednesday are those filed by Owei Tongu Woniwei of Alliance for Democracy (SC/774/2020); Vidjah Eldred Opuama of Liberation Movement (SC/776/2020) and Barr. Ebizimo Diriye of Accord Party (SC/772/2020).The appeals were against the decisions of the Court of Appeal, given earlier this year.The Court of Appeal had, in its October 2, 2020 decision in the case by the ANDP, set aside the August 17, 2020 majority judgment of the election tribunal and upheld the minority judgment, which dismissed the partys petition on the grounds that it was statute-barred and that it failed to prove its case.READ ALSO:Nembe killings: Diri orders automatic employment for slain victims relationsThe majority decision of the tribunal, given by two of the three judges, had upheld the ANDPs case of unlawful exclusion, voided Diris election, and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election in the state within 90 days.A five-man panel of the Court of Appeal had, in upholding the minority judgment, held that the suit was not only statute-barred, but the petitioner also failed to supply evidence to prove that its candidate was eligible for a contest the election.The court found, as held in the minority judgment that the ANDP nominated an underage deputy governorship candidate, who admitted at trial that he was 34 years old, as against the 35 years minimum allowed in the Constitution for a governorship candidate.
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