The ruling of a Federal High Court that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had no governorship candidate in the recently concluded governorship election in Bayelsa State has been nullified by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
A Federal High Court in Yenagoa had on November 14, 2019, held that David Lyon, the APC governorship candidate in the election that took place on November 16 was not qualified to be the candidate of the opposition party in the state.
The APC had quickly appealed the ruling warranting Lyon to be part of the election, which he eventually won.
The suit was filed by an APC governorship aspirant, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri. He had challenged the outcome of the party’s governorship primaries in the state.
Meanwhile, ruling on the matter, the Appeal Court presided over by Justice Isaiah Olufemi Akeju, held that the suit before the Federal High Court, which was filed on October 18, 2019, was status barred, considering the fact that election matters are time-bound.
“Election matters, unlike civil matters, are time-bound. First respondent’s action, which was filed on October 18, is status barred and stands struck out. The Federal High Court judgment stands on nothing. The appeal subsists. You cannot put something on nothing.” the judge said.
Also, Justice Cordelia Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo said that the suit was resolved without due process and so could not stand.
“The action instituted at the lower court was determined without due process. The judgment of the lower court cannot stand,” she said.
She meanwhile, said that the undertaking Lokpobiri and other aspirants undertook not to challenge the outcome of the primaries cannot stand, as the constitution of a political party, association or group, cannot be superior to the country’s constitution.
“The lower court was right when it said the undertaking cannot prevent the respondent from exercising his right by seeking redress in court.
“The two appeals emanated from the suit in Federal High Court and we have stated that the suit was status barred. The lower court stood on a quick stand by entertaining a matter that was filed out of time. We hereby strike out the High Court suit and judgment. The appeal is hereby allowed,” she said.
Like other members of the Appeal Court panel, Justice Abubakar Muazu Lamido, declared that the reliefs granted by the Federal High Court to Lokpobiri were not sought for.
Reacting, the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena who spoke with newsmen on Saturday in Abuja shortly after the appeal court ruling, said that the ruling was an affirmation that the APC’s Direct Primaries were credible and transparent.
Nabena, who lauded the court ruling, said that it was an indication that the process reflected the wish of APC members on who should be the party’s governorship candidate.
He also called on Bayelsans to rally around and support the incoming administration of Chief Lyon, and congratulated the APC on the appeal court’s overwhelming affirmation of Chief Lyon’s candidature.
“The Court of Appeal, in delivering its verdict, has sided with party members and defended their votes which they overwhelmingly gave Chief David Lyon to move Bayelsa state to the Next Level.
“While Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has a legitimate right to contest the outcome of the Direct Primaries through legal means, it is now clear through the appeal court ruling that Senator Heineken Lokpobiri had no case ab initio.
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