Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, Chairman of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Monday, affirmed the election of Duoye Diri as the governor of Bayelsa State.
Justice Ibrahim Sirajo disagreed with the tribunal majority judgement which nullified Duoye Diri’s election.
Two of the three-man tribunal judges had ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to within 90 days, conduct a fresh poll in Bayelsa State.
The two other members of the panel, Justices Owei Woniwei and Yunusa Musa had in their decisions, voided the outcome of the election that held in the state on November 16, 2019, over the exclusion of one of the registered political parties, Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), in the contest.
Disagreeing with the verdict, Justice Sirajo, said there was evidence that ANDP was disqualified from the election for fielding an ineligible candidate.
He noted that the party nominated an underaged deputy governorship candidate, who admitted that he was 34 years old, instead of the 35 years age bracket the Constitution stipulated.
Justice Sirajo said there was evidence that the party failed to substitute the candidate till the statutory window for such substitution elapsed.
He noted that Exhibit P8 before the tribunal was a letter that INEC wrote to the party on September 21, 2019, wherein it notified ANDP that the period for substitution of candidates had expired.
According to the Justice Sirajo, what the petitioners brought before the tribunal was a pre-election case since INEC’s decision that disqualified its candidates occurred before the actual election held on November 16, 2019.
He held that under section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the party, ought to have within 14 days after it got the notification from INEC, gone to a Federal High Court to challenge it.
The tribunal chairman held that failure of the party to do so made its petition against governor Diri’s election, statute-barred.