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Breaking: Tribunal rejects party’s request to join petition in Bayelsa governorship dispute

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The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, June 1, 2020 rejected an application by the Liberation Movement (LM), one of the 30 parties which took part in the November 2019 elections in the state, to join in the petition challenging the qualification of the state’s Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, to contest the election, The Nation has reported.

LM’s candidate in the election,  Vijah Opuama had filed the petition, alleging that Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged credentials and documents that contain false information, as prequalification requirements to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the election.

On May 5, 2020 the LM filed its application to be made a co-petitioner in the case, claiming to be an interested party, who will be affected by the outcome.

The tribunal took arguments from parties on the application on Monday morning.

In the ruling, the tribunal’s Chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo upheld the arguments of the respondents, to the effect that the party failed to justify why it filed the application late.

Justice Sirajo held that there were no exceptional circumstances to warrant the granting of the applicant’s request to have its application heard outside the tribunal’s pre-hearing session.

He noted that the time for the hearing of such application has elapsed, with the applicant not being able to justify why it delayed in seeking to be made a party in a petition filed by its candidate.

Recall that the Supreme Court sacked David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor-elect of Bayelsa State, barely 24 hours to his inauguration.

A five-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Odili nullified the election of Mr Lyon on the grounds that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the November 16 governorship election in the state.

Details later.

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