The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, dismissed an appeal challenging the All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship primary election in Bayelsa State.
Heineken Lokpobiri, a former minister, filed the appeal before the apex court.
Mr Lokpbiri had approached the apex court, asking it to declare him the winner of the APC governorship primaries held in the state.
He claimed that the party wrongly gave the ticket to David Lyon who eventually contested and won the governorship election.
Emmanuel Ukala, who is the lawyer to Mr Lokpobiri, argued that the appeal by his client was yet to be determined before APC submitted the name of Mr Lyon to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as its candidate.
But a five-member panel led by Mary Odili, on Tuesday, held that the appellant filed his case outside the 14 days allowed by law.
Reading the lead judgment of the apex court, Justice Iyang Okoro said, “The sole issue is resolved against the appellant. Accordingly, the appeal lacks merit and is hereby dismissed.”
Mr Okoro said that section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) does not admit any extension of time when it comes to pre-election matters.
The apex court said ”Any party seeking redress must file within the 14 days period.
“The appellant cause of action arose on 4th September when he was not declared the winner and not 7th September,” it said.
The court held that Mr Lokpobiri’s appeal lacks merit and accordingly dismissed it.
Lower court’s earlier decisions
The Port Harcourt Division of the Appeal Court had on January 11 ruled that Mr Lokpobiri’s petition was filed out of time.
Justice Isaiah Olufemi in the judgment said Mr Lokpobiri failed to comply with the statutory 14 days period, saying that he ought to have filed the case not later than September 17, 2019.
“The matter was filed on September 18, outside the 14 days statutory period. The petition was not filed within time,’’ he said.
It will be recalled that Mr Lokpobiri, a former Minister of State for Agriculture, had approached the Federal High Court to challenge the emergence of Mr Lyon as the governorship candidate of the APC in Bayelsa.
He had prayed the court to declare him the candidate of the APC, saying that he and not Mr Lyon won the party’s governorship primaries in the state.
The lower court presided by Jane Inyang had ruled outside his prayers, declaring that APC had no candidate for the election.
The appeal court, however, held that although Mr Lokpobiri had the right to contest the outcome of the party’s governorship primaries, he only did so outside the stipulated time.
The court further held that the parties were right to challenge the lower court’s decision which said that APC had no candidate for the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa.
It consequently, set aside the judgment of the lower court, describing it as having erred in law.