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Diri: Lawyers File Eleven Grounds of Appeal Against Judgement

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Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State, through his lawyers, lodged eleven grounds of appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Tuesday, to challenge the tribunal judgement that sacked him from office and ordered the Independence National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct a fresh election in the state within 90 days.

This is just as Diri’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) told PUNCH Newspaper on Tuesday that that his team had 10 days from Tuesday to compile and transmit the records of the tribunal to the Court of Appeal.

Recall that in a majority judgment delivered by Justice Yunusa Musa on Monday, the tribunal held that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) unlawfully excluded the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) from the election.

It, therefore, ordered INEC to conduct a fresh governorship election in Bayelsa State within 90 days.

Two judges on the panel; Justices Yunusa Musa and Sikiru Owoduni, in upholding the petition filed by the ANDP, held that INEC lacked the power to exclude any party from an election.

However, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, in his dissenting judgment, dismissed ANDP’s petition.

Diri, through his lead counsel, Uche on Tuesday, filed a notice of appeal containing 11 grounds at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, contending that the judges, who delivered the tribunal’s majority judgment, erred in law.

He urged the court to set aside the majority judgment and affirm Justice Sirajo’s minority judgment of the tribunal.

The appellant contended among others that the tribunal erred in law when it held that ANDP’s petition was not statute-barred.

According to the appellant, the cause of action arose on November 16, 2019 being the election day from which ANDP claimed to have been excluded and the party had 21 days within which to file their petition, but did not file the petition until more than five months after.

He also argued that the tribunal erred in its majority judgment that ANDP’s candidates for the November 16, 2019 election were validly nominated.

He added that it was erroneous for the tribunal to have held in the majority judgment that ANDP’s case was not a pre-election matter.

He argued that by virtue of section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution, the allegation of disqualification from an election constituted grounds for pre-election and not post-election cases.

The appellant urged the Court of Appeal, to “set aside the entire majority decision of the tribunal (per Hon. Justice Yunsa Musa and Hon. Justice S. M Owodunni) appealed against and to dismiss the 1st respondent’s petition.”

INEC had rejected the deputy governorship candidate of the party, David Esinkuma, for being 34 years old, falling short of the 35 years stipulated as the constitutional minimum age that must be attained to contest for the office.

Meanwhile, exlaining further on the appeal, Uche said, “By law, as the appellant, we have 10 days from the date of filing our notice of appeal to transmit the records of appeal, that is, the records of the tribunal, to the Court of Appeal.

He added that the appellant would then have another 10 days from the date of transmission of the records to file the appellant’s brief of arguments, and the respondents, five days from the date of being served to file respondents’ brief of arguments.

“Plus or minus, it will take about one month for the appeal to be ready for hearing,” Uche said.

The Court of Appeal has 60 days from Tuesday when the notice of appeal was filed to hear and deliver judgment on the appeal by Diri.

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