Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt on ysterday declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had a candidate in the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State, contrary to the judgement of the Federal High Court, which declared that the APC had no candidate in the poll.
The Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa had on November 14, 2019 declared that APC had no candidate in the election. It was ruling on a suit filed by an APC governorship aspirant, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, challenging the outcome of the party’s governorship primaries in the state,
The Bayelsa State Governor-elect, Chief David Lyon, the APC, and Lokpobiri had filed three appeals before the Court of Appeal, against the judgement of the Federal High Court.
Delivering judgement on Lyon’s appeal yesterday at the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, the Presiding Justice, Hon. Justice Isaiah Olufemi Akeju, ruled that the suit before the Federal High Court, which was filed on October 18, 2019, was status barred, considering the fact that election matters are time bound.
Akeju said: “Election matters, unlike civil matters, are time bound. First respondent’s action, which was filed on October 18, is status barred and stands struck out. The Federal High Court judgement stands on nothing. The appeal subsists. You cannot put something on nothing.”
Delivering judgement on APC’s appeal against the Federal High Court judgement, Hon. Justice Cordelia Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo, declared that the suit was determined without due process and therefore could not stand.
Jombo-Ofo said: “The action instituted at the lower court was determined without due process. The judgement of the lower Court cannot stand.”
She, however, declared that the undertaking written by Lokpobiri and other governorship aspirants not to challenge the outcome of the primaries cannot stand, as the constitution of a political party, association or group, cannot be superior to the country’s constitution.
Jombo-Ofo said, “The lower court was right when it said the undertaking cannot prevent the respondent from exercising his right by seeking redress in court.
“The two appeals emanated from the suit in Federal High Court and we have stated that the suit was status barred. The lower court stood on a quick stand by entertaining a matter that was filed out of time. We hereby strike out the High Court suit and judgement. The appeal is hereby allowed.”
On his part, Hon. Justice Abubakar Muazu Lamido, while delivering judgement on Lokpobiri’s appeal, declared that the reliefs granted by the Federal High Court to Lokpobiri were not sought for.
Speaking to newsmen later, counsel to Lokpobiri, Fitzgerald Olorogun, said they would challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court.
Olonu said, “What happened was that the court said the action was filed outside the time prescribed by the constitution. Therefore, the court refused to entertain it.
“All of us agreed that the lower court made errors when it nullified the entire primaries. The matters are serious matters and we will approach the Supreme Court.”
Addressing journalists also, counsel to the APC, Sydney Ibanichuka, expressed joy that the Court of Appeal in its wisdom addressed all issues raised by the appellants.
Ibanichuka said: “The Court of Appeal has in its wisdom addressed issues raised by appellants in this matter. The matter at the lower court was accordingly struck out.”