A’Court upholds Diri election, gov worries over endless cases – Newstrends
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A’Court upholds Diri election, gov worries over endless cases

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Friday reversed the nullification of the November 16, 2019 governorship election that produced Duoye Diri as governor of Bayelsa State and affirmed his election.

The five-man panel in a unanimous judgment, delivered by Justice Obande Ogbuinya, 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, according to a THISDAY report.

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 unlawful 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 approached the appellate court to set aside the majority judgment on the grounds that the majority judgment was flawed.

Delivering judgment in the appeal yesterday, the appellate court held that there was enough evidence to show that the case of the first respondent (ANDP) was statute barred because it was not filed within 14 days as prescribed by law.

Ogbuinya, 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.

Specifically, the court held that the cause of action of the ANDP arose on September 27, 2019, when INEC wrote the ANDP on the disqualification of its governorship candidate having not attained the age of 35 years as required by law, adding that the party ought to have approached a High Court to ventilate its anger 14 days from that date.

The judge said the ANDP, however, filed its petition at the Governorship tribunal in flagrant disobedience to section 285, adding that the tribunal is not a competent platform to institute such a pre-election case.

The appellate court further held that the documentary evidence used by INEC to disqualify the ANDP candidate on account of under-age was incorruptible because they were supplied by the candidate himself with an affidavit sworn to affirm the genuineness and authenticity of the supplied information.

In another ground of appeal, Justice Ogbuinya also agreed with the appellant that INEC has power to disqualify any candidate who does not meet the requirements for participating in an election.

According to the panel, INEC was right in excluding the ANDP from the November 16 governorship poll on grounds of its Deputy Governorship candidate, who was said to be under age at the time of the election.

Overall, Justice Ogbuinya held that the case of the appellant has 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.

In another matter, the court dismissed the appeal filed by Mr. Ebizimo Diriyai, the candidate of the Accord Party, on the grounds that the allegation of certificate forgery brought against the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, were not proved beyond reasonable doubt as required by law on criminal allegations.

Justice Folasade Ojo, who delivered the lead judgment agreed with Chukwuma Machukwu-Umeh, SAN, that the case of the Accord Party being a pre-election matter was statute barred and incompetent having been filed outside 14 days stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.

Justice Ojo also agreed with Machukwu-Umeh that the Accord Party and its governorship candidate made heavy weather in their certificate forgery allegations when in actual fact, the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) and the Department of State Service (DSS) have separately confirmed in the reports that mere correction was effected in the name of the deputy governor as contained in his Exemption Certificate.

The appellate court agreed that the allegations were weighty in nature as it could lead to automatic disqualification and also agreed that there was no scintilla of evidence to establish how a mere correction in the spelling of a name transformed into forgery.

The court therefore dismissed the appeal of the Accord Party and its governorship candidate in its entirety for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

Also giving the same reason, the court dismissed the petition of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Liberation Movement (LM) alongside their governorship candidates.

Diri Attributes Victory to God

Meanwhile, Diri, in a press statement by his spokesman, Daniel Alabrah, applauded the decision of the five-man panel of Justices for upholding the law and dispensing justice to all.

He attributed his victory to God whom he referred to as the Supreme Leader of the universe ruling over the affairs of men.

Diri said: “I want to thank God for this victory. Today, a Daniel came to judgement in the name of the Court of Appeal, which has given the true position of the law and we are happy about it.”

But Diri bemoaned the litany of electoral cases trailing his election, describing them as distractions, and stated that it was time “portfolio political parties” stopped fanning the embers of disunity in the state.

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Court stops Rivers PDP From holding state congress

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Court stops Rivers PDP From holding state congress

A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt has issued an injunction preventing the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from conducting its state congress in Rivers State.

The court’s decision effectively bars the PDP from holding the congress, pending further proceedings.

The court issued the order in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of plaintiffs, including Hon. David Chiinedu Omereji, Hon. Prince Solomon Eke, Isodoye Tobin, Goddy Manfred Pepple, Okiah Precious Chigozirim, Hon. Orolosama Peter Amachree, Goodfriday Nweke, Alfred Letam, Hon. Wechie Ndubisi Raymond, Mrs. Erebie Michael, and Hon. Ogenma Idalunimulu, against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its national officials, namely; National Chairman; National Financial Secretary, and National Organising Secretary.

The lawsuit, with the suit number PHC/2282/CS/2024, was filed at the Rivers State High Court.

Justice Sobere Biambo, the trial judge, heard the application for an interim injunction filed by the aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on July 15, 2024.

The applicants, represented by Eberechi Adiele (SAN) and S.O. Orlu, Esq., sought to restrain the defendants, including the PDP national officials, from conducting the party’s congress in Rivers State, scheduled for today.

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After considering the submissions of the learned counsel for the claimants/applicants, Justice Biambo is set to determine the application.

The hearing took place at High Court 13, Port Harcourt, with the judge carefully reviewing the arguments presented.

“IT IS ORDERED: That an order of interim injunction is hereby issued restraining the defendants and each of them, either by themselves servant, agents, assigns or otherwise however from holding or carrying out the People Democratic Party (PDP) Congress in Rivers or be rescheduled to be held on any other date or any other location.

“That an order interim is hereby issued stopping or suspending the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Congress in Rivers State scheduled to be held in Rivers State on the 27th of July, 2024 or to be held on any other date or any other location pending the determination of the motion on notice already filed.

“That an order interim is hereby issued restraining the defendants by themselves, servants, agents or otherwise howsoever, from taking any decision or giving any directive to further extend howsoever the already expired tenure of the last State, Local Government and Ward Executive Officers of the People Democratic Party(PDP) in Rivers State.

The Court adjourned till the 19th of July, for the motion on notice already filed.

Court stops Rivers PDP From holding state congress

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Intervene in APC chairmanship tussle, group tells Tinubu

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Intervene in APC chairmanship tussle, group tells Tinubu

A pressure group within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene in the party’s ongoing chairmanship dispute. This comes amid renewed pressure from North Central stakeholders seeking to reclaim the party’s chairmanship position.

The North Central Reality Movement (NCRM), led by its national chairman, Ibrahim Muhammad Rabiu, expressed these concerns during a press briefing. Rabiu highlighted that the insistence on Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as chairman erodes grassroots support in the North Central Zone.

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Rabiu warned that this issue could negatively impact the party’s performance in the 2027 general election. He pointed out that internal party crises, particularly in Zamfara, result from the current national leadership’s inability to resolve disputes effectively.

He cited the example of the South-South zone, which replaced Dr Betta Edu as a Women’s Leader, and questioned why the North Central zone was not given a similar opportunity when the former chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, resigned.

“We are appealing to the president to stabilise the party by ensuring the North Central reclaims its leadership position. This will help resolve the ongoing crises before the 2027 elections. As we speak, if not for FCT Minister Nyesom Wike, who was even appointed from a different party, none of our appointed APC leaders have given us infrastructural campaign tools for 2027,” Rabiu added.

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LP warns NLC to stop demarketing Peter Obi

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Peter Obi

LP warns NLC to stop demarketing Peter Obi

The Labour Party (LP) Directorate on Mobilization and Integration has cautioned the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) National Transition Committee (NTC) to cease undermining the party and its 2023 presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

The Directorate reaffirmed Julius Abure as the legitimate National Chairman of the LP, as confirmed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the party’s highest decision-making body. They urged the NLC NTC to respect the reconciliation efforts initiated by Obi or to seek legal redress if they have any grievances.

This response comes after an unsigned statement allegedly released by the NLC NTC, which described Abure as the former National Chairman of the Labour Party and instructed party stakeholders to boycott planned congresses in Anambra, Imo, Delta, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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In a statement on Monday, Marcel Ngogbehei, the Director General of the LP Directorate on Mobilization and Integration, criticized the NTC’s statement as “childish, malicious, and misleading.” Ngogbehei emphasized that the NLC has no authority to establish a transition committee for any political party in the country, calling their actions alien to the law and suggesting they test their constitutionality in court.

The Directorate highlighted the NTC’s divisive nature and urged Labour Party supporters to ignore their tactics. Ngogbehei encouraged LP stakeholders to remain focused and attend the upcoming party congresses as announced by the Abure-led National Working Committee (NWC).

The Labour Party also accused the NLC NTC of collaborating with the government to weaken opposition parties like the Labour Party and prevent them from holding the government accountable. The statement said, “NTC has become a destructive agent seemingly working for the government to eliminate any perceived opposition structures in the country; the citizens are groaning under government policies that have left Nigerian workers poorer. Rather than the current NLC learning from the Oshiomole years of courageous leadership and engaging the government to protect the interests of Nigerian workers and citizens, they are busy meddling in political party affairs, attempting to demarket the only true opposition party in the country.”

LP warns NLC to stop demarketing Peter Obi

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