The long time court battle is finally over as Supreme Court on Wednesday, affirmed the election of Douye Diri as the authentic governor of Bayelsa State.
A seven-member panel of justices of the apex court in a unanimous judgment, dismissed the six appeals, which sought to oust Governor Diri and the Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, following withdrawal of applications by counsel to the appellants.
The Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) Alliance for Democracy (AD), its governorship candidate, Owei Woniwei, Liberation Movement (LM), its candidate, Vijah Opuama and the Accord Party (AP) had approached the court to upturn Diri’s election, but later withdrew their appeals.
The court argued that the appellant’s claim of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) disqualification of its candidate was wrong, because the candidate did not meet the constitutional age requirement.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, had in a judgment of October 2, 2020, upturned the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal’s verdict that nullified Diri’s election.
The appellate court had in its decision by a five-man panel of justices, voided the majority judgment the tribunal delivered on August 17, 2020, which ordered INEC to conduct fresh election in the state within 90 days.
It hinged its decision on the ground that INEC unlawfully excluded the ANDP from the November 16, 2019 governorship election.
All the appeals were dismissed for being statute-barred and for containing pre-election matters beyond the scope of an election tribunal.
In the same development , Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, applauded the Supreme Court verdict on Diri and Ewhrudjakpo’s election, describing the ruling as “a victory for democracy.”
In a statement in Benin City, on Wednesday, he said: “I congratulate Governor Diri and Ewhrudjakpo, on their victory at the Supreme Court, The verdict is a victory for democracy. The Supreme Court has upheld the wishes of Bayelsa people.”
Obaseki, who said the ruling had put paid to issues surrounding the election, noted that Governor Diri was now free from any entanglements to deliver on his campaign promises to Bayelsa people in line with the manifesto of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, in his reaction to the ruling, Diri, said the litigants were neither his enemies, nor enemies of Bayelsa State and extended an olive branch to those that contested the election in court.
He pointed out that the litigants only exercised their rights to go to court and that he did not consider the litigations as personal regardless of the fact that they were a distraction.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Daniel Alabrah, in a statement in Yenagoa, noted that the dismissal of the petitions against Ewhrudjakpo and Diri was the fifth time the defendants won at the Supreme Court.