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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Olumide Akpata wins LP ticket for Edo gov poll

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Olumide Akpata wins LP ticket for Edo gov poll

A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, has won the Labour Party (LP) ticket for the September 2024 governorship election in Edo State.

He scored 316 votes to win the primary election held in Benin City, Edo State capital, on Friday.

Deputy Governor of Abia State, Ikechukwu Emeta, who was the returning officer of the election, declared Akpata as the winner of the primary.

Emeta said, “Mr Olumide Osaigbovo Akpata, having scored the highest number of votes and certified the provisions of the constitution of the party, is hereby declared the winner and the gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party for the Edo State governorship election 2024.”

In his victory speech, Akpata thanked his supporters and members of the party for backing him and promised to work for the good of the state if eventually elected the governor of Edo State.

He also paid tribute to a former governor of Ondo State and NBA president, Rotimi Akeredolu, who was buried on the same day.

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BREAKING: Okpebholo emerges Edo APC Gov candidate

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Senator Monday Okpebholo

BREAKING: Okpebholo emerges Edo APC Gov candidate

Senator Monday Okpebholo (Edo Central) has been declared winner of Edo All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship direct primary election.

Cross River Governor Bassey Otu, who was the Chairman of Edo APC shadow poll, made the declaration after collating the results from the 18 local government areas.
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The collation and declaration were at Lushville Hotel and Suites, Gapiona Avenue, Government Reservation Area (GRA), Benin.

Okpebholo polled 12,433 votes to defeat the representative of Ovia constituency in the House of Representatives, Dennis Idahosa, who scored 6,541 votes.

BREAKING: Okpebholo emerges Edo APC Gov candidate

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Tight security as APC collates Edo governorship fresh primary results

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Tight security as APC collates Edo governorship fresh primary results

The Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday held a fresh election after the one held last Saturday was canceled after three aspirants claimed victory after the exercise.

The national leadership of the APC declared the primary inconclusive and replaced the chairman of the electoral committee, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, with the Governor of Cross Rivers State, Bassey Otu.

The fresh poll held on Thursday and at the time of filling this report, party supporters, especially the youths, were at the Lushiville Hotel waiting for the announcement of the results.

Stern-looking policemen and soldiers were at the venue to forestall a reoccurrence of what happened on Saturday when thugs attacked party officials and destroyed equipment belonging to journalists.

At the time of filling the report, the committee said that the collation and announcements of results would begin early Friday morning.

However, a stakeholder, who pleaded anonymity, stated that the party was at a crossroads.

“I really don’t know what the party wants to do. How is it possible to have a fresh election under 10 hours as the agreement for a fresh election was reached just after midday on Thursday?

“I hope this will not plunge the party into fresh crisis as we risk not fielding a candidate for the September 21 governorship election in the state.”

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In the controversial Saturday poll, Uzodimma announced Dennis Idahosa as the winner, while returning officer, Stanley Ugboaja declared Monday Okpebholo as winner.

Also, Ojo Babatunde, who claimed to be representing the returning officers in all the local government declared Anamero Dekeri as the winner of the election.

However, the post-primary election crisis degenerated on Monday as angry youths and women took over the party secretariat, demanding the sacking of the State Working Committee led by acting chairman, Jarret Tenebe.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Felix Morka, said the party did not sack Uzodimma as erroneously reported.

According to him, the governor was ‘unavoidably unavailable’ to complete the primary election, hence the need to replace him with his deputy.

He said, “The attention of the All Progressives Congress has been drawn to reports in sections of the media suggesting that the Governor of Imo State, and Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, His Excellency, Hope Uzodinma, was sacked or dropped as the Chairman of the Edo Gubernatorial Primary Election Committee, and replaced with the Governor of Cross River State, His Excellency, Bassey Otu.

“We wish to clarify that Governor Uzodinma was neither ‘sacked’ nor ‘dropped’ as has been erroneously reported, but was unavoidably unavailable to lead the completion of the party’s Edo State Gubernatorial Primary Election Process due to his prior scheduled attendance of, and presentation of a report, to the National Economic Council meeting today February 22, 2024.”

The immediate-past governor of Ekiti State and ex-Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, hailed the decision to rerun the Edo governorship primary.

Fayemi also accused the former National Chairman of the APC and ex-Edo governor, Adams Oshiomhole, of having a hand in the first primary which ended in a crisis.

Fayemi said, “Earlier, Oshiomhole had attempted to eliminate some aspirants from contesting in the primaries and failed. This is reminiscent of his high-handedness as National Chairman when he manipulatively schemed Governor Godwin Obaseki out of the electoral process. That action led to the unfortunate loss of Edo State by the APC.

“It would appear the ground was being prepared by Oshiomhole yet again for the APC to lose the coming election in Edo State because of his unconscionable behaviour. However, the party has demonstrated independence and impartiality in canceling and reordering the primaries.”

Tight security as APC collates Edo governorship fresh primary results

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