A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, Thursday nullified the governorship primaries of All Progressives Congress (APC), declaring that the September 4, 2019 poll that threw Chief David Lyon up as the party candidate for the November 16 election did not conform with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
Presiding Judge, Justice Jane Iyang, declared that the result of the governorship primaries declared by the secretary of the election committee, Senator Emmanuel Ochoja, was supposed to be done by the chairman of the committee, Mai Mala Buni.
Iyang in her ruling, chastised the Bayelsa governorship primaries election committee headed by the Yobe state Governor, insisting that it was clear that the committee threw caution to the wind while conducting and announcing the outcome of the September 4primaries and that the action of the committee did not conform with the party’s guideline.
She noted that decision of the secretary of the committee, Emmanuel Ochoja to take over the duty of the chairman of the committee truncated the whole process, therefore, “neither the plaintiff nor the first defendant can lay claim to the ticket of the party.”
She later declared that the APC does not have a validly elected candidate, “thereby the governorship primary is set aside.”
Justice Iyang also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to include the names of Senator Heineken Lokpobiri (plaintiff) and Chief David Lyon (first defendant) on the ballot paper, “the legal unit of INEC is to be served quickly.”
Both counsels to the plaintiff and first/second defendants however kicked against the decision of the court.
Counsel to Lokpobiri, Fitzgerald Olorogun, in his response, described the judgment as strange and was not in line with the prayer of the plaintiff.
“According to the court, the governorship election conducted in Bayelsa state on the 4th of September was not conducted with the guideline and constitution of the party. This was not part of our prayers in court. And this is very strange. We would do the needful but for now the pronouncement of the court has it that the APC has no candidate,” he said.
Counsel to Chief David Lyon and All Progressive Congress (APC), Sidney Barachuka, described the judgment as a travesty of justice.
He said “What has happened is a travesty of justice. It has been said time without number that the court is not father Christmas. The court cannot dish out orders that were not prayed for by the parties in court. What the plaintiff were asking for was to be declared winner of the primary but not nullification of the entire process or proceedings.
And what the court just did was to nullify the entire process. And there were documents attached to the application of the plaintiff showing that actions taken at the party primary conducted were done in line with the party guideline and in no way fell short of extant provisions of the law.
So we on our part as lawyers are going to steps available to law to challenge the outcome of this judgment delivered today. As we speak, we are at the registry taking the necessary steps available to law to challenge the judgment because the court is not the final arbiter of matters like this”.