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Bayelsa: Appeal court dismisses application to join ANDP factional leaders in Diri’s appeal

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Diri is appealing against the judgement of the election tribunal nullifying his election

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday dismissed an application by five leaders of a faction of the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) seeking to join in an appeal filed by the governor of Bayelsa State, Duoye Diri, against the judgement of the Bayelsa governorship election tribunal.

The ANDP had in its earlier petition challenged the ‘illegal’ disqualification of its candidate, Lucky King-George, by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) from participating in the November 16, 2019 governorship election.

In a split decision on August 17, the tribunal upheld the ANDP’s petition and ordered that INEC conduct a fresh governorship election in the state within 90 days, a judgement Mr Diri seeks to cancel.

The ANDP’s counsel, Dominic Anyiador, in a fresh application on Monday, registered names of five members seeking to be joined as interested members in the suit earlier filed by the party.

The five factional leaders are James Femowei (chairman), Barnabas Nwanguwa (national vice chairman), Fortune Oyadongha (national publicity secretary), Fred Ikhaghu (national director NGO/Volunteers) and Linda Nyam (director of admin and records).

The applicants in their submission claimed that they are genuine members of the ANDP and that they were unaware of the petition filed by the party at the tribunal challenging Mr Diri’s election. They stated their support for the governor.

They also stated that Charles Ogholi, the national chairman of the party, had already been expelled from the party since 2018 and thus had no right or power to do anything.

“The 1st respondent (ANDP) as a political party endorsed and adopted his excellency Senator Duoye Diri and his deputy Lawrence Erhujakpor as its gubernatorial candidates in the said November 16th 2019 gubernatorial election conducted by the 3rd (INEC) respondent in Bayelsa State.

“The judgement of the lower court nullifying the election of the governor of Bayelsa State came to the interested parties and other members of the 1st respondent as a rude shock reason being that they were/are not aware of any pending suit by the 1st respondent against the governor of Bayelsa State bothering on his election held on the 16th day of November 2019,” the applicants’ counsel posited.

In its defence, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, counsel to Mr Ogholi, in turn urged the court to dismiss the application saying to the court that it lacked jurisdiction on the matter because it is an inter-party affair.

In its judgement, the appeal court’s three-member panel led by Steven Adah, dismissed the application saying it was, “irrelevant, prejudicial and a waste of judicial time” and ordered that the appellants and the respondents be paid the sum of N200,000 each by the applicants.

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