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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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Ex-chief of Air Staff, Abubakar, wins Bauchi APC governorship ticket

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A former Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, has emerged the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bauchi State.

Abubakar served as chief of air staff from 2015 to January 2021 when President Muhammadu Buhari replaced him and other service chiefs.
The President later appointed him as Nigeria’s ambassador to Chad. He has resigned from that appointment.
Abubakar polled 370 votes to clinch the party’s ticket in Bauchi.
Halliru Jika, senator representing Bauchi central, polled 278 votes to place second.
Nura Manu got 269 votes, Musa Babayo had 70 votes; and Mahmud Maijama’a secured eight votes.
Similarly, Umar Mohammed Bago, House of Representatives member, has won the APC governorship ticket in Niger State.
Bago currently represents Chachanga federal constituency in the house of representatives.
The lawmaker won the governorship ticket after polling 540 votes.
Idris Malagi and Sani Ndanusa polled 386 and 84, respectively, to place second and third in the exercise.

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AbdulRazaq clinches Kwara APC guber ticket, talks of beating own record

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Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara state was Thursday evening reelected as the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023 General elections.

The governor was the sole aspirant in the exercise that took place inside the Banquet Hall of the government house, ilorin where 965 delegates were expected to vote for him.

At the end of the exercise, Chairman Governorship/ House of assembly primaries sent by the National leadership of the party from Abuja ,Prof Emmanuel Dandaura who led the team that supervised the election said that there were 961 valid votes, and 4 invalid votes.

Professor Dandaura asked whether there was complaint from anyone to which there was no response. He therefore declared the governor as the gubernatorial candidate of the party for the 2023 governorship elections.

Governor AbdulRazaq in his acceptance speech assured that he would not take the support of the delegates and other stakeholders in the ruling party for granted.

He noted that,”2023 is the year to make it clear to the doubting Thomases that the revolution of 2019 was not a fluke”, stressing that “It is the year to reaffirm our decision to reclaim our dignity and have a state that serves everyone equitably.

“We must therefore keep what is left of our patrimony, and by all democratic means avoid a relapse to the years of the distress, Governor AbdulRazaq said.

He also said that, “between 2019 and now, the trajectory of Kwara State has changed. We have registered a bold presence in the comity of decent and respected states. We have positive strides and indices in education, health, access to water, improved youths engagement, gender mainstreaming, support for farmers and the vulnerable, and rural development to show for our mandate.”

Today, he said, that ” no part of Kwara State is left without government presence. Our politics has also evolved. The destiny of Kwarans is no longer tied to any particular person. That is the bold message from our primaries.”

Governor AbdulRazaq however said he’s not perfect, saying, “Are we perfect? No, we are not. What is not debatable is the magnitude of progress that Kwara has made over the last three years. We can only beat our own records of achievements.”

He also said, “So, we will campaign on our records of improving the lots of our people and reasserting the leadership position of Kwara State.

“We will campaign on our record of courageously opening up the democratic space for all. We will campaign on our records of courageously opening up our books for public assessments in our strong belief that perfection belongs to God alone. In doing so, we are steadily improving the old system and achieving more efficiency.”

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Tinubu, Kwankwaso, Ekweremadu may lead regional parties

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Tinubu, Kwankwaso, Ekweremadu

Ahead of the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress, indications have emerged that a former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; and national leader of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Rabiu Kwankwaso, may spearhead regional parties pending the outcome of the primaries that would take place this weekend.

Meanwhile, Peter Obi has been discussing with the NNPP but has not joined the party, The PUNCH learnt on Wednesday night.

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A source close to Kwankwaso, who was reacting to speculations that Obi had joined the NNPP after leaving the PDP, said, “It is not official, but that rumour is going on. I’m not sure if he (Obi) has reached out to us. You know his resignation was just today (Wednesday). But I know they have been discussing it with Kwankwaso even before now.

“What might happen is that the politics of 2023 might turn to regional politics. The NNPP is already strong in the North. There is a possibility that Ike Ekweremadu, Enyinnaya Abaribe and Peter Obi might form an alliance under another party in the South East.

“If Asiwaju Bola Tinubu doesn’t get the APC ticket, he might also go back to South-West with the Social Democratic Party. So, these three parties might become the big parties representing the regions in 2023.”

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