Panic has gripped the people of Bayelsa State as a Governorship Election Tribunal, Monday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to order a fresh election within 90 days.
This came as a result of the Tribunal upturning the election of Bayelsa Governor, Douye Diri.
The verdict follows the petition by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) challenging the victory of Governor Diri in the November 19 governorship election.
The ANDP claimed that the party was unlawfully excluded from the election.
In a split judgment of two-one, the three-man panel ruled that INEC does not have the power to disqualify any candidate for an election.
INEC in its argument had said that the party’s Deputy Governorship candidate was 34-year-old as at the time of nomination and therefore did not qualify to contest the election.
ANDP told Justice Yunusa Musa, who delivered the lead judgment that its initial Deputy Governorship Candidate, David Esinkuma was duly substituted by the Party within the allowed time frame, following the notification from INEC that he’s under-age.
Justice Musa in his response said that INEC has no power to disqualify any candidate and insists that the petition of the ANDP stands.
He also added that only a court has the power to disqualify any candidate for any election and that the petition was filed within 21 days, which is the stipulated time for petitions to be filed.
Justice Musa described the action of INEC to exclude the ANDP from the Bayelsa Governorship Election as illegal.
The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Muhammad Sirajo, however, dismissed the petition on technical grounds.
However, Governor Diri said that he has instructed his lawyers to file the necessary papers.
Diri stated this shortly after the tribunal ruled that INEC wrongly excluded ANDP governorship candidate in the November 2019 election.
“We trust in the judiciary and we are appealing the judgment. With God on our side, we will get justice.
“This is a court of the first instance and I have instructed our lawyers to file an appeal. We have a right to appeal even up to the Supreme Court,” he said.
The governor urged members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his supporters not to panic but continue to remain calm and law-abiding.
Last Saturday, the tribunal dismissed three petitions filed against Governor Douye Diri challenging his victory.
The three-man panel took the decision in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Owodunni.
The tribunal held that the petition filed by Owei Woniwei of the Alliance for Democracy is incompetent and lacks merit.
According to the Tribunal, the petitioner failed to prove the allegations of the forged declaration of age and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharged certificate levelled against the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence.
The second judgment between Ibiene Stephen versus the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Duoye Diri, his deputy and PDP was also heard by Justice Yunusa Musa.
The Tribunal dismissed United Peoples Congress’ petition challenging Governor Diri’s election.