The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has struck out the case of a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri challenging the candidacy of the Bayelsa State Governor-elect, Chief David Lyon.
The three-man panel of the court held in a unanimous judgement that Lyon was validly elected as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the last year November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa.
A former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who claimed to have won the primary election of the APC dragged Lyon and the APC to court demanding that he (Lokpobiri) should be declared the authentic candidate of the APC for the election.
But ruling on the matter in a controversial judgement delivered two days to the gubernatorial election, the Federal High Court held that the APC had no candidate for the election.
The judgement delivered by Justice Jane Inyang created confusion in the polity and the electoral process as the court invalidated the primary of the APC without making consequential orders.
Aggrieved that the judge went beyond his prayers, Lokpobiri, who was the claimant headed for the appeal court.
Also, Lyon and the APC approached the same court praying the court to set aside the lower court’s judgement and to dismiss the appeal of Lokpobiri.
The appeal court panel members, I.O.Akeju, C.J.Jombo-Ofo and A.M.Lamido, set aside the judgement of the lower court.
The justices described the action of the lower court as ultra vires and odious saying the Inyang’s court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
The justices also ruled that the appeals were statute-barred as they were filed beyond the time limit.
Lyon in a statement signed by his acting Media Adviser, Chief Gift Ebiki, hailed the judgement describing it as victory for all Bayelsans across party lines.
He extended the olive branch to Lokpobiri and his supporters saying there was no victor no vanquished.
Referring to the judgement as democracy at work, Lyon said all stakeholders should work him to develop Bayelsa describing the outcome of the last election as the people’s choice.
“It is victory for democracy and victory for all Bayelsans. But there is no victor, no vanquished. Bayelsa is one big family and we invite all stakeholders to work with is to develop this state”, he said
A member representing Brass-Nembe Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Israel Sunny-Goli, hailed the judgement saying it had further confirmed the victory of the APC at the poll.
He said: “The victory has affirmed not only the collective decision of Bayelsa APC faithful but also that of all well-meaning Bayelsans who gave their mandate to Lyon in the just-concluded gubernatorial election.”
The lawmaker commended the judiciary for dispensing true justice when it mattered most, adding that the judgments had further shown the credibility and integrity of members of the Bench.
Sunny-Goli also urged fellow party members, who might still be dissatisfied with the internal party process which brought Lyon to accept the decision of the learned judges and join hands with Lyon to move the state forward.
Also a member representing Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Preye Oseke, hailed the judgement.
He said: “I wish to congratulate the Bayelsa state governor-elect and candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the November 16th, 2019 governorship election, Chief David Lyon, on his victories at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt division.
“The rulings delivered today, 11th January 2020, by the Court of Appeal, upheld the 4th September 2019 direct primary election of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which produced Chief David Lyon as candidate of the party.
“The rulings delivered separately at the same Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, all turned out in favour of Chief David Lyon.
“These victories are indeed not only for the Bayelsa state governor-elect, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, but for all Bayelsans who overwhelmingly voted for him. It is an affirmation of the collective will of Bayelsans who resolved to make a departure from darkness to light, which Chief David Lyon signifies. It is indeed a victory for democracy.
“I must not fail to applaud the judiciary for further entrenching our democracy through its rulings today. These rulings have elicited joy across the state, which is an indication that anything contrary would have no doubt thrown the State into a state of gloom.
“I am confident that Bayelsans are in for better days under the incoming administration, as the governor-elect is a development driven personality who is desirous to bring development to the people of the state. I therefore also congratulate Bayelsans for these victories”.