By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, dismissed the appeal filed by Mr Ebizimo Diriyai, the candidate of the Accord Party, against the election of Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa.
NAN reports that the appellate court dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the allegation of certificate forgery brought against Ewhrudjakpo by the Accord Party was not proven beyond reasonable doubt as required by law on criminal allegations.
Delivering judgment on the appeal, Justice Folasade Ojo agreed with Ewhrudjakpo’s counsel, Mr Chukwuma Machukwu-Umeh, (SAN) that the case of the party was statute-barred.
The court also held that the case was incompetent having been filed outside the 14 days stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Ojo also agreed with Machukwu-Umeh that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the Department of State Service (DSS) had separately confirmed in the reports that mere correction was effected in the name of the deputy governor as contained in his exemption certificate.
The appellate court agreed that the allegations were weighty in nature as it could lead to automatic disqualification and also agreed that there was no evidence to establish how a mere correction in the spelling of a name transformed into a forgery.
The court, therefore, dismissed the appeal of the Accord Party and its governorship candidate in its entirety for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
The court also dismissed the petition of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Liberation Movement (LM) alongside their governorship candidates given the same reasons.
Meanwhile, the court had earlier reversed the nullification of the election of Gov. Duoye Diri, setting aside the judgment of the Bayelsa Governorship Election Petition Tribunal of Aug. 17 which nullified the Nov. 16 governorship election that produced Diri as the governor.