Appeal Court dismisses case seeking nullification of governorship elections

From Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the case brought by the Action Peoples Party (APP), challenging the propriety of the last governorship elections held in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

The court’s decision to dismiss the appeal was taken shortly before hearing the applications by interested parties, who sought to be made parties in the case.

Those who sought to be joined include the Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Those who sought to be made parties in the appeal by the APP are the current beneficiaries of the elections, who would have been affected by the outcome of the case.

Shortly before the conduct of the elections late last year, the APP had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the Federal High Court, Abuja, querying the alleged exclusion of its candidates.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1163/2019, the party claimed that INEC prevented it from replacing its candidates earlier disqualified by the electoral umpire.

It particularly prayed the court to among others, declare “that any subsequent conduct of the 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship election without the replaced candidates of the plaintiff, is null and void by reason of such exclusion.”

The Federal High Court, in its judgment, held against the APP, and proceeded to uphold the decision by INEC to reject the candidates’ replacement list submitted to it by the party on the grounds that the list was brought outside the stipulated time.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in the judgment delivered on February 21, 2020 held that INEC was right to have excluded candidates of the party (APP) from participating in the governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states in 2019.

Justice Ojukwu was of the view that the APP replaced its withdrawn candidates outside the statutory period of 45 days to the date of the 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship election.

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