Bayelsa Deputy Gov. files preliminary objection against petition


Bayelsa State deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo has asked the state governorship tribunal sitting in Abuja to dismiss the petition filed against him by the governorship candidate of Liberation Movement (LM).

LM candidate, Vijah Opuama had filed a petition against Ewhrudjakpo alleging that Senator Ewhrudjakpo had submitted forged documents and documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 16 November 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State.

He prayed the tribunal to disqualify the Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, Senator Ewhirudjakpo and their political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and order for a fresh election without the disqualified PDP.

But in a preliminary objection filed by his counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), the deputy Governor urged the tribunal to dismiss and or strike out the petition for being incompetent.

In the preliminary objection brought pursuant to section 6 (6) of the 1999 constitution, section 145(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 and other relevant law,s, Senator Ewhrudjakpo contended that the petition is statute barred having been filed outside the mandatory statutory period of 21 days.

In addition, his counsel, Ume argued that the petition is incompetent, as the petitioner lacked the locus standi to solely contest the outcome of the election, without joining the political platform (LM), that sponsored him to participate in the election.

On this ground, the senior lawyer referred the tribunal to section 137(1)(b) of the Electoral Act, to emphasize that LM, being the party that sponsored the petitioner in the November election, it is a necessary party for the purpose of determining the petition before the tribunal.

In addition, Ume submitted that as at when the petition was filed on February 20, 2020 or thereabout, the petitioner’s erstwhile political party (LM) has long ceased to exist as a political party as it has been de-registeted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since February 6, 2020.

Umeh noted that it was for this obvious reasons that the petitioner failed to join his political party that sponsored him in his petition contrary to section 177(1)(C) of the 1999 constitution.

Besides, the senior lawyer argued that the petitioner shoot himself in the foot when in analyzing the Supreme Court judgment in the fruitful appeal filed by Ude Jones submitted that Orji Kalu cannot benefit from the judgment because he was not a necessary party to the appeal.

Ume submitted that situating the legal position of the petitioner to his own petition, his political party cannot reap from the judgment of the Federal High Court in suit No: FHC/ABJ/ CS/ 444/2019 between Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD)& 32 Ors Vs AGF and Anor, since it was not a party to the suit.

It is also the position of the deputy governor that it was too late in the day for the petitioner to now file a motion seeking to join his political party (LM) as a party to the petition, since his preliminary objection contesting the competent of the petition has since been taken and issues already joined by parties.

Aneta Felix is a seasoned broadcast journalist and versatile content producer with an interest in reporting on human and gender rights, insecurity, corruption, and development among others. She has over five years of progressive experience, working across online, radio, and TV platforms, reporting the Boko Haram insurgency in Adamawa state, covering elections across the country and interviewing CEOs of multi-million dollar companies. Aneta is also the producer and presenter of the business documentary program, Startups, on TV360 Nigeria. She is a graduate of International Studies and Diplomacy from the University of Benin and is based in Lagos Nigeria.

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