15 August 2020 by VICTORIA ABAH
The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, has upheld the election of Governor Duoye Diri and his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
The Justice Ibrahim Sirajo-led three-member panel in separate unanimous judgements, dismissed three different petitions that sought to nullify the outcome of the governorship election held in Bayelsa State on November 16, 2019.
Delivering Judgment, the tribunal held that the three petitions were incompetent and lacked merit.
It also held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegation that Diri’s deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, forged his declaration of age and National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate.
The dismissed petitions were brought before the tribunal by the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and its candidate, Owei Woniwei, United Peoples Congress, UPC, and its candidate, Ibiene Stephen, as well as the candidate of the Liberation Movement, LM, Vijah Opuama.
The petitioners had separately challenged the qualification of the deputy governor, Ewhrudjakpo, alleging that he tendered forged certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
They alleged that Ewhrudjakpo altered the name on the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, certificate he presented to INEC for the purpose of the governorship election.
They also accused him of falsifying his age.
Reacting to the Judgment, Counsel to the Governor of Bayelsa and his deputy, Mr Chris Uche and Mr. Chukwu-Machakwu Ume, who both hailed the court’s judgement, said the petition was a waste of judicial time.
Also addressing journalists after the court’s judgment, Counsel to Vijah Opuama , Mr. Pius Dande said they would be challenging the judgment at the Supreme Court.
The petitioners had earlier urged the tribunal to disqualify Governor Diri, his deputy, Ewhrudjakpo and their political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and order a fresh governorship election in the state without the participation of the disqualified party.