It was a big setback for Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State on Monday as the Governorship Election Tribunal nullified his election.
The Tribunal nullified the election while giving its verdict in the petition filed by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) challenging the victory of Governor Diri in the November 19 governorship election.
The party had in the petition complained of being unlawfully excluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in the election.
The tribunal in a split judgement of two-one agreed with ANDP that INEC unlawfully excluded it from participation in the election.
It also ruled that INEC does not have the power to disqualify any candidate for any election in Nigeria.
In the majority judgment, the Tribunal dismissed INEC’s argument said that the ADP’s Deputy Governorship candidate was 34 years old as at the time of nomination and therefore did not qualify to contest the election.
Conversly, it accepted the party’s argument that its substituted its initial Deputy Governorship Candidate, David Esinkuma, within the allowed time frame, following the notification from INEC that he’s under-age.
In addition, the Tribunal ruled that since INEC has no power to disqualify any candidate, the petition of the ANDP stands.
It also ruled that the petition was filed within the 21 days which is the stipulated time for petitions to be filed and therefore should be determined on its merit.
In the lead judgment, the Tribunal therefore nullified the election of Governor Douye Diri while ordering INEC to conduct fresh election within 90 days.
It also asked INEC to include the ANDP in the fresh election.
But in his minority judgment, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Muhammad Sirajo dismissed the petition on technical grounds.