Pointblank: Bayelsa Governorship And Circles Of Invalidation

Pointblank;Bayelsa Governorship And Circles Of Invalidation

By Ifeanyi Izeze

The relationship between ruling and opposition politicians in this country has always been defined by mutual incredulousness and the barrage of self-serving comments on the latest nullification of the November 2019 Bayelsa state governorship election by the Tribunal underscores this awkwardness.

From everyday happenings in this country, it seems the blindness of justice is designed to guarantee justice just for justice’s sake. In effect, is justice itself free of its consequences? That is: what purpose does justice serve in society?

No matter how anybody wants to see it, the latest invalidation of the governorship election in the state by the Tribunal is yet another sorry tale in this nation’s political development especially as concerns what the ordinary people want.

As aptly captured by Abdullahi Yelwa in his comment, “On the issue at hand, Bayelsa had suffered series of miscarriages of justice in the name of justice.

“At first, the APC won the election decisively but was denied assumption of power because of the judicial pronouncement. The governor elect through no fault of his lost his hard earned victory. As a consequence of that action, the people of Bayelsa suffered irreparable injustice through the loss of their mandate.

“Now again, the people are at legal jeopardy for the prospect of  losing a government they have come to accept, simply because a political party they hardly know has claimed that injustice had been committed against it.

So is the law saying that to achieve justice for this minority interest, the entire system; the political parties, the electoral umpire and the entire people of Bayelsa State must suffer injustice? So, what is justice and what is its purpose?”

The question now is: What did the Tribunal judgement actually say concerning the nullification? Did the Tribunal order a rerun or a fresh election? This question is very imperative because it entails different things to different interest groups especially registered political parties active in the state.

If the tribunal ordered a “rerun”, it then means only parties which legally participated in the last election would be eligible to take part in the rescheduled process.

On the other hand, if the Tribunal ordered a fresh election, that means that the last election simply didn’t exist in law, and all processes leading to it is void.

This simply connotes that all parties that were on the ballot, including the excluded party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) would participate because in the eyes of the law, nothing happened on the 16th November, 2019”.

You see the confusion?

Meanwhile the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is insisting that the ANDP nomination for the election was invalid while the party did not exercise its right guaranteed in the Fourth Alteration to the constitution by filing its suit within 14 days of the accrual of the said right.

For sure we don’t need to be told that as long as these cases drag in the courts, there is not going to be any tangible development and focused governance in the state. Meanwhile monies from federal allocations and other sources of revenue that would have been applied to improve the lives of our people will still be spent on intangibles as the people who are currently holding on to power are not even sure they won’t be replaced by another gang by another gang coming with another court ruling.

How long can Bayelsa afford to continue in this cyclic sequence of retrogression?

Recall that the tribunal in the majority judgment delivered by Justice Yunusa Musa voided the outcome of the election that held in the state on November 16, 2019, over the exclusion of one of the registered political parties, Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, ANDP, in the contest.

ANDP had in a petition it lodged before the tribunal, contended that it was unlawfully excluded from participating in the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, despite the fact that it fulfilled all the statutory requirements.

The majority judgement, agreed that INEC illegally excluded ANDP and its governorship candidate, King George, from the election.

However, disagreeing with the verdict, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Sirajo, said there was evidence that ANDP was disqualified from the election for fielding an ineligible candidate.

He noted that the party nominated an under-aged deputy governorship candidate, who admitted that he was 34 years old, instead of the 35 years age bracket the Constitution stipulated.

Justice Sirajo said there was evidence that the party failed to substitute the candidate till the statutory window for such substitution elapsed.

According to the Justice Sirajo, what the petitioners brought before the tribunal was a pre-election case since INEC’s decision that disqualified its candidates occurred before the actual election held on November 16, 2019.

He held that under section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the party, ought to have within 14 days after it got the notification from INEC, gone to a Federal High Court to challenge it.

The tribunal chairman held that failure of the party to do so made its petition against governor Diri’s election, statute-barred.

Meanwhile the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is insisting that the ANDP nomination for the election was invalid while the party did not exercise its right guaranteed in the Fourth Alteration to the constitution by filing its suit within 14 days of the accrual of the said right.

When will all these finish for the Bayelsa people to begin to enjoy the dividends of having a state government? You see it’s still a long way to go. God bless Bayelsa State!

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