Governor Douye Dirir has asked the Court of Appeal to set aside Monday’s judgment by the state governorship election tribunal which nullified his election.
In a notice of appeal filed on Tuesday, Diri raised 12 grounds of appeal an on which basis he is praying the Appeal Court to void the majority judgment of the tribunal given by Justices Yunusa Musa and S. M. Owodunni in the appeal by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP).
Diri wants the Appeal Court to set aside the majority decision and uphold the minority judgment of the tribunal given by its Chairman, Justice Muhammad Sirajo.
Listed as respondents in the notice of appeal are ANDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the first ground of appeal, Diri argued that the tribunal erred in its majority judgment in holding that ANDP’s petition was not statute barred.
He argued that since the petition challenged that party’s exclusion from the election held on November 16, 2019 the 21 days allowed by law had elapsed when the petition was filed on February 26, 2020.
“There was no election held on February 2020 held by INEC to ground the 1st respondent’s petition against the alleged unlawful exclusion from the election.
“The case of the 1st respondent is not hinged on the nullification of the votes of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, David Lyon, nor on the declaration of of results by the 2nd respondent (INEC) on the 14th day of February 2020, nor on the return of the appellant as the. Governor of Bayelsa State, but on its alleged unlawful exclusion from the election held on the 16th day of November 2019.”
Diri also faulted the tribunal’s majority judgment on the grounds that the tribunal erred when it held that the 1st respondent’s candidates were validly nominated when the ANDP fielded underage candidates.
He argued hat the names of the candidates were manifestly invalid for being below the constitutional age of 35 years.
“The 1st respondent’s witnesses admitted under cross-examination that the said candidates were only 34 years of age.”
Diri equally argued that the tribunal was wrong to have held that INEC unlawfully excluded the ANDP’s candidates.
He also faulted the tribunal’s decision to the effect that the action of INC in rejecting the nomination of the candidates of the ANDP as being invalid,was a nullity.
Diri equally faulted he tribunal for holding, in the majority decision, that the ANDP had the locus standi to maintain the petition.
He argued: “After the withdrawal and striking out of the names of the 2nd to 4th petitioners therein, the 1st petitioner, as the remaining sole petitioner, did not deem it wise to amend the petition to reflect the withdrawal of the 2nd to 4th petitioners and the paragraphs that pertain to them.
“The 1st respondent (ANDP) could not therefore, be granted the relief in paragraph 15(1) of the petition”, in relation to ordering INEC to conduct fresh election.
Diri also faulted the majority judgement where the tribunal held that the ANDP’s complaint in its petition was not a pre-election matter.
He added that Justices Musa and Owodunni erred in law, in their majority judgment, when they held that ANDP’s “case was competent. and that the nullity of the action of the 2nd respondent (INEC) created an exception to the limitation period of 14 days provided by Section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution.”