DIRI ORDERED HIS LAWYER FOR APEAL

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, yesterday
expressed optimism about upturning on appeal, the judgment
of the State Election Petitions Tribunal, which earlier in the day
nullified the election that brought him to office.
Diri, who was reacting to the tribunal’s nullification of the
November 16, 2019 governorship election, said he had already
instructed his lawyers to appeal the judgment at the Court of
Appeal.
In a split decision, the tribunal ruled that the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC) erred when it
disqualified the candidate of the Advanced National Democratic
Party (ANDP) from contesting the election for allegedly having
an underage candidate as his running mate.
But INEC yesterday insisted that the governorship candidate of
the ANDP, Mr. Lucky King-George, was not properly nominated
to run for the election.
King-George had asked the tribunal to cancel the election
because he was excluded from it.
INEC had explained that it excluded ANDP from the elections
because Mr. David Esinkuma, the party’s initial deputy
governorship candidate, was 34 years old and did not meet the
age requirement of 35 years as stipulated by the constitution
to contest the election.
But following INEC’s observation on the ineligibility of
Esinkuma on account of his age, ANDP had said he was duly
substituted within the allowed time frame.
The party, therefore, prayed the tribunal to order for a fresh
governorship poll in the state.
On Saturday, a three-man panel of the tribunal had dismissed
three petitions challenging Diri’s election on the grounds of
incompetence and lacking merit.
The tribunal in a unanimous decision dismissed the first
petition that was filed by the Alliance for Democracy and its
candidate, Mr. Owei Woniwei, for want of merit.
The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to lead credible
evidence to prove that the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State,
Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, tendered forged certificate to
the INEC.
In the lead judgment read by Justice S.M. Owoduni, the
tribunal held that the petitioners failed to also establish the
allegation that Ewhrudjakpo falsified his age.
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