• Says Bayelsa guber poll’s nullification fair on all political parties

  • Gov, PDP appeal Tribunal’s  judgment

  • Former Gov Dickson appeals for calm 

The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has applauded the Bayelsa Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja for nullifying the November 16, 2019, governorship election in the state.

BMO Chairman, Mr Niyi Akinsiju said the ruling had recognised and treated all political parties in the country as equal before the law.

Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while reacting to the ruling on Monday, Akinsiju said: “The ruling of the tribunal is a reflection of the conflict and conflict resolution attribute of democracy.”

According to the BMO chairman; “Essentially, the judiciary has stretched itself to protect the constitutional rights of a political party not minding its size, which is the cornerstone of democracy.

“We commend the tribunal in particular, for treating all parties recognised by law as equals.”

He said the development further advances the non-intervention stance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in anything that has to do with judicial subject matter.

“This ruling has further enhanced political related judicial submissions thus enabling clear guides and conducts for the Independent National Electoral Commission in the management of elections.

“We remind Nigerians, once again, that the delivery of non-encumbered election at different tiers of government is one of the legacy commitments President Muhammadu Buhari made to Nigerians and he will most assuredly deliver on this too,” he said.

Tribunal’s 2-1 Majority Judgment

NAN reports that the three-member Election Tribunal led by Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, had in a 2-1 majority ruling upheld the plea of unlawfully excluded from election brought before it by the Advanced National Democratic Party (ANDP).

Delivering the lead judgment on Monday, Justice Yunusa Musa, held that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong to have excluded ANDP from the poll.

Another member of the panel, Justice Sikiru Owodunni, also agreed with ANDP and the Tribunal therefore, ordered the Electoral umpire to conduct fresh election within 90 days.

However, the Tribunal Chairman, Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Sirajo, in a dissenting judgment, held that the petition of ANDP lacked merit and dismissed it.

Minority Judgement

In his minority judgement, Justice Sirajo said the Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the petition.

He also maintained that since the ANDP was disqualified before the election on account of fielding an underaged governorship candidate, the petitioner’s case was a pre-election mater and should be handled by a regular court.

Justice Sirajo further held that the ANDP’s candidate could not have been properly nominated for the November 16, 2019 governorship election because the electoral body had disqualified the candidate via a letter dated September 21, 2019.

He noted that the party nominated an underaged deputy governorship candidate, who admitted that he was 34-years-old, instead of the 35 years age stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.

Gov Diri Approaches Appeal Court

Speaking to newsmen, Mr Chris Uche (SAN), counsel to the Bayelsa state Governor, Duoye Diri said his client had instructed him to petition the judgment immediately.

Also, a statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr Daniel Alabrah, confirmed that Governor Diri has already triggered the appeal process.

He said the governor, who spoke shortly after the tribunal’s ruling instructed his lawyers to file the necessary papers, even as he expressed implicit confidence in the judiciary to triumph in the end.

“We trust in the judiciary and we are appealing the judgement. With God on our side, we will get justice. This is a court of first instance and I have instructed our lawyers to file an appeal. We have a right of appeal even up to the Supreme Court”, the statement said.

The statement urged members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his supporters not to panic but remain calm and law-abiding at all times

Former Gov Dickson urges calm

In his reaction, immediate past Governor of Bayelsa, Chief Seriake Dickson, urged Bayelsans to remain calm as the judgment is only a temporary setback which in law does not affect the status quo until appeal processes were exhausted.

A statement by the former governor’s Media Aide, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the government would appeal the judgment.

According to him, there is no vacancy in the Bayelsa Government House as Diri remains governor until a final decision on the issue is reached at the Supreme Court.

Dickson charged Bayelsans to go about their lawful duties without any disturbance because of the judgment on the suit filed by the ANDP against its purported exclusion in the election by INEC.

He said: “I urge Bayelsans to remain calm. They shouldn’t misinterpret what took place at the tribunal today.

“The judgment is a temporary setback which does not have any effect on the status quo until all processes of appeal are exhausted.”

“There is no vacancy in the Bayelsa government house. Diri remains governor until the supreme court decides. Of course, what this means is that the PDP will appeal this decision”, Dickson said – With NAN reports

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