Appeal Court dismisses UPC’s appeal challenging Diri’s election - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

Appeal Court dismisses UPC’s appeal challenging Diri’s election

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By Olubiyi Obasa

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Thursday dismissed the appeal filed by the United Peoples Congress (UPC) and its governorship candidate, Mr Stephen Ibiene, against the election of Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State.

The Court on Thursday reserved judgments on six other appeals after the appeals were heard.
Presiding Justice Adezila Mshella ruled at the end of each hearing of the appeals filed by Independent National Electoral Commission( INEC) , Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Accord Party (AP), and Liberation Movement (LM) that parties would be communicated when the judgment is ready.

But in a unanimous decision yesterday the court dismissed the appeal filed by UPC for want of prosecution having been abandoned by the appellants.

The Bayelsa State Election Petition Tribunal had in August dismissed the petition of the UCP and its governorship candidate for failing to prove allegations made against the deputy Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.

Dissatisfied with the decision the petitioners had last month appealed against the tribunal judgment, asking the appellate to set aside the decision.

However when the matter was called Thursday, while Chief Chris Uche (SAN), Mr Yunus Ustaz (SAN) and Mr Emmanuel Idem announced appearance for Governor Diri, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and PDP respectively, there was no representation for the appellants.

In a short ruling, the five man panel of the appellate court presided by Justice Adezila Mshella, dismissed the appeal for want of prosecution.

Other members of the panel of Justices, Obande Fetus Ogbuinya, Peter Olabisi Ige, Jamilu Yamama Tukur and Folasade Ayodeji Ojo agreed.

Recall that the tribunal had in a two-to-one judgment last month held that the Advanced Nigerian Democratic Party (ANDP) and its governorship candidate, Lucky King-George, were unlawfully excluded by INEC in the November 16 governorship poll in Bayelsa State.

The tribunal accordingly nullified Diri’s election and ordered a fresh poll in 90 days Dissatisfied with the decision of the tribunal Gov Diri had filed three separate appeals challenging the decision.

Arguing the appeals filed by Governor Diri on before a five man panel of the Court of Appeal, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), urged the Court of Appeal to allow the appeal and set aside the majority judgement of the tribunal that nullified Gov. Diri ‘s election victory.

The counsel said that the appeal raised a critical question bordering on unlawful exclusion even though issue of unlawful exclusion had been resolved by the appellate Court in the past.

He insisted that All Nigerians Progressive Party (ANPP) had no governorship candidate at the election, therefore it cannot claim unlawful exclusion as its candidate have been disqualified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for being under age.

But counsel to ANPP, Mr Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgment of the tribunal.

He also prayed the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

He submitted that nomination and qualification are two different things adding that appellant’s arguments on cited Supreme Court cases support his argument that ANPP was unlawful excluded from the election.