The Court of Appeal in Abuja, has recently reserved its judgement on the appeal made by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri which he filed to set-aside the tribunal verdict that removed him from office and ordered a fresh election in the State.
The Court, equally reserved the judgements of two other appeals by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), and the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), filed to challenge the nullification of Diri’s election by the tribunal.
A five-man panel of Justices from the court, led by Justice Adzira Gana Mshella approved the appeals for judgement on the day it awarded N500,000 cost against the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, ANDP, which was the party that filed the petition that led to Diri’s sack.
Recall that hearing of all the appeals was stalled on Wednesday owing to an application the ANDP brought for leave to change the lawyer that handled the case for it at the tribunal.
The new lawyer, Mr Gabriel Egbule, had after Diri’s appeal was called up for hearing, informed the appellate court that the party was no longer interested in processes its former lawyer, Mr Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, filed in defending the judgement of the tribunal.
Egbule drew the attention of the court to ANDP’s notice of change of counsel dated September 23, adding that he would henceforth represent the party in the matter.
Meanwhile, Ogunwumiju, SAN, who expressed surprise over the development, persuades the court to defer the hearing to enable him to confirm his status in the case.
However, at the resumed proceedings in the case on Thursday, Ogunwumiju announced his appearance for the ANDP, even as Egbule notified the court that he got a fresh directive to hands-off and withdraw all the applications he filed on behalf of the party.
Dissatisfied with the situation, Governor Diri’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, urged the appellate court to not only punish the ANDP but also its National Chairman, Chief Charles Ogboli, noting that he was the one that deposed to the fresh affidavit sought to be withdrawn.
Uche also drew the attention of the appellate court to the fact that ANDP anchored its application on the ground that its gubernatorial candidate, King George, earlier pulled out of its case at the tribunal and equally left the party.
He noted that the party averred in the affidavit that in the event that a fresh election is conducted in Bayelsa State as ordered by the tribunal, it would be left without a gubernatorial candidate.
“My lords should take judicial notice of what transpired in this court yesterday.”
Diri’s lawyer explained that justice is more than a hide and seek game, adding that they are requesting for a N500,000 cost.
ANDP’s lawyer, Ogunwumiju replied that his client is prepared to pay the cost, However, opposed similar request for cost by counsel to the PDP, Mr. Emmanuel Inoidem on basis that he did not file any process with respect to Governor Diri’s appeal.
The appellate court in a ruling, awarded cost only to Governor Diri, as it struck out all processes filed by ANDP.
Relatedly, INEC in its appeal through its lawyer, Mr. Ibrahim Bawa, SAN, put forward that it was declared by section 285(14) (c) of the constitution to disqualify a candidate for an election that failed to meet statutory requirements.
They urged the court further to hold that ANDP did not validly select a candidate as demanded by the law.
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