BayelsaDecides: Appeal Court orders INEC to allow APC contest Saturday’s election

David Lyon, winner of the Bayelsa State 2019 governorship election
David Lyon, winner of the Bayelsa State 2019 governorship election

The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, David Lyon, contest Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa.

Fitzgerald Olorogun, a lawyer to Heineken Lokpobiri, who is one of the parties in the case, confirmed the development to PREMIUM TIMES, Friday evening.

The Court of Appeal on Friday set aside the November 14 judgement of the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, which declared that the APC should not be on the ballot for allegedly conducting a governorship primary that failed to comply with the party guidelines and constitution.

The Court of Appeal ordered INEC to “maintain the status quo ante bellium which existed before 18 September 2019”.

The order followed an ex-parte application filed on Thursday by the governorship candidate of the APC, Mr Lyon.

Mr Lokpobiri, a governorship aspirant who lost the APC primary to Mr Lyon, is one of the respondents in the appeal, including INEC.

To underscore the critical nature of the court case, the APC national leadership was said to have dispatched lawyers from Abuja to Port Harcourt for it.

One of the grounds for Mr Lyon’s application at the Court of Appeal was that there would be “a great irreparable damage” to himself and his party, the APC, if the judgement by Justice Jane Inyang of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, is allowed to be executed before the election.

The order from the appeal court comes as a great relief to the APC which looks good to challenge PDP’s dominance in Bayelsa politics.

INEC had earlier said that APC would be on the ballot, despite the judgement of the Federal High Court.

“Court ruling does not say APC should not participate in the election,” Mr Okoye, INEC’s spokesperson, said Friday morning.

“APC will be on the ballot paper. The court only says the two candidates are not eligible. But we don’t have candidates on the ballot papers. We only have logos of parties and those are what will be there,” Mr Okoye said.

Tussle

The judgement of the Federal High Court which barred INEC from accepting either Mr Lyon or Mr Lokpobiri as the governorship candidate of the APC was as a result of a case filed by the latter who had asked the court to declare him the authentic candidate of the party.

Mr Olorogun, the lawyer to Mr Lokpobiri, shocked by the decision of the Federal High Court, said the court’s declaration was not part of their prayers.

“It’s strange,” he told reporters.

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