The Bayelsa Governorship Election Tribunal has nullified the election of Governor Douye Diri. The Tribunal has ordered INEC to order a fresh election within 90 days. In a split judgement of two-one, the three-man panel ruled that INEC does not have the power to disqualify any candidate for any election.
The verdict follows the petition by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) challenging the victory of Governor Diri in the November 19 governorship election. The ANDP is claiming that the party was unlawfully excluded from the election. But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in its argument said that the party’s Deputy Governorship candidate was 34 years old as at the time of nomination and therefore did not qualify to contest the election.
ANDP told Justice Yunusa Musa who is delivering the lead judgment that its initial Deputy Governorship Candidate, David Esinkuma was duly substituted by the Party within the allowed time frame, following the notification from INEC that he’s under-age. Justice Musa in his response said that INEC has no power to disqualify any candidate and insists that the petition of the ANDP stands. He also adds that only a court has the power to disqualify any candidate for any election and that the petition was filed within the 21 days which is the stipulated time for petitions to be filed.
Justice Musa described the action of INEC to exclude the ANDP from the Bayelsa Governorship Election as illegal. The lead judgment nullified the election of Governor Douye Diri and directed INEC to include the ANDP in the Election. The lead judgement was read by a member of the panel and not the Chairman.
The majority judgement is that the Election of Governor Douye Diri is nullified.