The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has affirmed the Governor-Elect of Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon as the validly elected governorship flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the November 16th gubernatorial election, thereby dismissing the pre-election objection of the Former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.
The Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa had on the 14th of November nullified the Governorship primaries of the All Progressive Congress (APC), declaring that the September 4th primaries that threw up Chief David Lyon as Candidate of the Party for the November 16th election did not conform to the provisions of the party.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Jane Iyang had declared that the result of the Governorship primaries declared by the Secretary of the election committee, Senator Emmanuel Ochoja instead of the Chairman of the Committee, Mai Mala Buni.
Iyang in her ruling, chastise the Bayelsa Governorship primaries election committee headed by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni insisting that it is clear that the Committee threw caution to the wind while conducting and announcing the outcome of the September 4th primaries and that the action of the committee did not conform with the party guideline.
She noted that decision of the Secretary of the Committee, Senator Emmanuel Ochoja to take over the duty of the Chairman of the Committee truncated the whole process, “neither the plaintiff nor the first defendant can lay claim to the ticket of the Party.”
But presiding over the two Appeals filed the Governor-elect,Chief David Lyon and former Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, the presiding judges of the Court of Appeal, Justices I.O.Akeju, C.J.Jombo-Ofo and A.M.Lamido, submitted that the appeal filed by the Governor-elect, David Lyon against the November 14th ruling of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Jane Iyang on issue of non-validity of the party primary in Yenagoa, is upheld as the lower Court lacks jurisdiction.
According to the Court of Appeal, in suit numbered CA/ PH/575/2019,allowed the David Lyon Appeal and the judgment of the lower court was struck out for lack of jurisdiction. And that the matter was statute barred.
On the second ruling on Senator Lokpobiri appeal, the Justices of the court in suit CA/ PH/ 585/2019, 3., said the respondent (Lokpobiri) though has a right of audience before the court and the the undertaking is inconsequential but since the sister case just delivered was struck out for the reasons given above, this one goes the same way.
In CA/PH/586/2019, the Court stated that the appellant appeal was allowed because the court erred in granting a consequential order not sort by the parties. The court acted ultra viras its powers,”The cause of action ought to commence within 14 days which start counting from the date of the primaries which is 4/9/2019 and lapsed on the 17/9/2019, and not a later date. As in the instant case which commenced on the 18/9/2019, hence it was filed or commenced out of time. As such it has become statute barred. The court therefore lack jurisdiction”
Senator Lokpobiri in his appeal had asked the Court to set aside the ruling of the lower court and uphold his prayers as instituted on his behalf by Mr Fitzgerald Olorogun, the former minister claimed to have won the September 4, governorship primary of the party with a majority votes of 111, 439, claiming that Aganaba Stephen came second with 5,426, Ebitimi Amgbare was the third position with 638 votes while Lyon David Pereworinimi came fifth with 325 votes.
In the originating summons,Sen. Lokpobiri applied for an order of perpetual injunction restraining APC, its officers, agents and privies from treating, presenting or holding out Lyon to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s candidate for the election.
The plaintiff also sought an order of perpetual injunction stopping INEC, its officers, agents and privies from accepting or further accepting, publishing or further publishing David Lyon as the flag bearer and another order barring the electoral body from excluding him as the APC candidate.
Besides, the governorship aspirant sought another order to stop Lyon from parading or further parading, presenting or further presenting himself as APC candidate and a similar order against INEC to stop it from accepting, recognising, or dealing with Lyon or putting his image on the ballot paper in the name of APC as the party’s governorship candidate.
Lokpobiri wants the court to compel INEC to treat him as the lawful candidate of APC and to accord him the rights, privileges and perquisites of a candidate of APC in the gubernatorial election.
Counsel to Chief David Lyon, Sidney Ibanickuka Esq described the ruling as one hinged on natural justice insisting that it has proving that a Court should not rely on his ruling by hearing from only one side,”the Court must hear from all parties in a case.”
Reacting to the development, Kinsmen of Chief David Lyon from the Ologbobiri Community led by Chief Sylvester Ikoli and the Brass-Nembe House of Representatives Member, Hon. Israel Sunny-Goli, congratulates the Bayelsa State Governor-elect, Chief David Lyon, on his victory at the Appeal Court.
While the kinsmen of Chief David Lyon from Ologbobiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the State led by Chief Sylvester Ikoli described the victory at the appeal court as a proof that the ruling of the lower court was allegedly procured, , Hon. Israel Sunny-Goli of the Federal House of Representative, described the ruling as a victory for democracy and a good omen for Bayelsa State.
According to Sunny-Goli,”the victory has affirmed not only the collective decision of Bayelsa APC faithfuls, but also that of all well-meaning Bayelsans who gave their mandate to Lyon in the just-concluded gubernatorial election.”
The lawmaker commends the Nigeria Judiciary for dispensing true justice when it mattered most, adding that, “the judgments have further shown the credibility and integrity of members of the Bench, and the Buhari-led administration’s desire to nurture democracy to its fullest.”
Sunny-Goli equally urges fellow party members who may still be dissatisfied with the internal party process which brought in Lyon to accept the decision of the learned judges and join hands with Lyon to move the state forward.
Also speaking, a Chieftain of the APC, Gift Ibiki, described the ruling of the Appeal Court as that of ‘No victor, No vanquish”, asking Senator Lokpobiri and his group within the party to join hands with Chief David Lyon to form a formidable team that will map out development plans for the people of the state, ”we are appealing to Sen. Lokpobiri to join hands to build a government that will deliver jobs and development to the people of the state. David Lyon doors are open to everyone. One man cannot do it alone.”