Bayesla tribunal: Court of Appeal reject ANDP faction’s request for inclusion in Diri’s appeal

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On Tuesday the Court of Appeal seating in Abuja has rejected a motion by members of the James Femowei-led factional National Executive Officers (EXCO) of the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), seeking to be included in the appeal by Bayelsa Governor, Duoye Diri against his sack by the election tribunal.

In a ruling, the court described the motion as frivolous and a ploy to waste its time and delay its hearing of pending appeals.

The Bayelsa Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had on August 17, this year, in a split decision of two-to-one, voided the outcome of the gubernatorial election that held in the state on November 16, 2019, over the exclusion of ANDP’s candidate, a decision Diri appealed in the appeal marked: CA/A/EPT/GOV/703/2020.

On September 10, 2020, the Femowei-led EXCO, through their lawyer, Dominic Anyiador, filed the motion, arguing among others that they were the authentic owners of the party and did not authorise the challenge of the outcome of the last governorship election.

The Court of Appeal heard the motion on Monday and in a ruling, rejected it on the grounds that those who filed it were without the requisite locus standi to approach the court in an election-related case.

In the court’s unanimous ruling of a three-man panel, upheld the preliminary objection raised against the motion by a lawyer to the ANDP, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) to the effect that the so-called members of the Femowei-led EXCO are not necessary parties in the case.

The court agreed with Ogunwumiju that by the provision of sections 133 and 137 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), the applicants are not one of the persons entitled or ordered an election petition or appeal.

It added: that there is no room for executive members of a political party to be joined in an election petition.

“The notice of preliminary objection is upheld as the applicants have no locus standi to bring the motion.”

The court described the motion as an attempt to waste its time and proceeded to order the applicants to pay N200, 000 each as the cost to the first, second, and third respondents.

Those identified as the applicants are James Femowei; factional Chairman of the ANDP, Barnabas Nwaguma (National Vice Chairman); Fortune Oyadonghan (National Publicity Secretary); Fred Ikhaghu (National Director NGO/Volunteers), and Mrs. Linda Nyam (Director Admin/Records).

The Court of Appeal subsequently adjourned till September 23 for the hearing of six pending appeals in relation to the August 17, 2020 judgment

The court said on the said date, it will first, hear the application filed by Diri,s lawyer, Gordy Uche (SAN) seeking the consolidation of the six pending appeals, before proceeding to the hearing.

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