By Alex Enumah
A five-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, reversed the nullification of the November 16 governorship election that produced Senator Duoye Diri as governor of Bayelsa State.
The five man panel in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Obande Ogbunya, held that the majority judgment of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, erred in law when it held that the petition of the Advanced Nigerian Democratic Party (ANDP) was not statute barred.
The tribunal had in a two-to-one judgment in August annulled the election of November 16, 2019 Governorship Election in Bayelsa State on the grounds of the exclusion of the ANDP from the poll.
The tribunal consequently ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a fresh election that will include the ANDP and its governorship candidate within 90 days.
However Diri had approached the appellate court to set aside the majority judgment on the grounds that the majority judgment was flawed.
Delivering judgment in the appeal on Friday, the appellate court held that there was enough evidence to show that the case of the first respondent (ANDP) was statute barred having not filed within 14 days as prescribed by law.
Ogbunya in the judgment agreed with the appellant that the case of the ANDP was a pre-election matter which ought to be filed within 14 days but was filed five months after the cause of event.
In another ground of appeal, Justice Ogbunya also agreed with the appellant that INEC was right in excluding the ANDP from the November 16 governorship poll on grounds of disqualification of the ANDP’s Deputy Governorship candidate, who was said to be under age at the time of the election.
Overall, Justice Ogbunya held that the case of the appellant had merit and went ahead to set aside the majority judgment of the tribunal that annulled the November 16 governorship poll.
The Court of Appeal in addition affirmed the election of Diri as governor of Bayelsa State.