Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed the appeal filed by the Action Peoples Party (APP) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the exclusion of its candidates from the 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The appeal was dismissed just after Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had asked to be joined in the appeal as respondents. Also yesterday, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and the All Progressive Congress (APC) had equally approached the court to be joined as respondents in the appeal.
However, when the matter was called up, counsel to the appellant, Obed Agu, drew the attention of the court to a motion of withdrawal of the appeal filed on April 14.
Agu told the court that his client was desirous of withdrawing the appeal in accordance with order 11 Rule 1 of the Court of Appeal rules 2015. His application was not opposed to by counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar, SAN, and those representing parties seeking to be joined in the appeal. Umar, however, asked the court for N3m cost against the appellant.
Other counsels representing parties seeking to be joined in the matter did not oppose the motion for withdrawal but demanded that it should be dismissed.
Delivering its ruling, a three-man panel of the court led by the acting President, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, dismissed the appeal in line with order 11 Rule 5 of the Court of Appeal rules. The court, however, refused to award cost against the appellant on the ground that the only respondent on record, the INEC, did not file its response to the appeal.
Justice Mensem, who delivered the unanimous ruling, said the preliminary objection filed by INEC against the appeal could not stand on its own without a respondent’s brief.
The appeal marked, CA/ABJ/CV/218/2020, is challenging the judgment of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court delivered on February 21, wherein she held that INEC was right to have excluded candidates of the APP in the governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states in 2019.
The judgment of the trial court was predicated on the ground that APP replaced its withdrawn candidates outside the statutory period of 45 days to the date of the 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship election.