The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it may respond to some of the issues raised by the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal when it is availed of the full judgment of the case.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye who stated this in an interview with the Newsman, said the commission was reacting to the nullification of the Bayelsa State’s Governorship election which produced Governor Duoye Diri.
Mr Okoye, however, noted that the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) nomination for the election was invalid while the party did not exercise its right guaranteed in the Fourth Alteration to the constitution by filing its suit within 14 days of the accrual of the said right.
Mr Okoye recalled that the ANDP was one of the political parties that signified its intention to contest the November 16, 2019 Bayelsa governorship election.
He said the party conducted party primaries and submitted the name of one Peter David as its deputy governorship candidate.
Mr Okoye said as at the time of the submission of the name of the said candidate, he was 34 years-old, contrary to Section 177(b) of the constitution that makes it mandatory for a candidate for such office to attain the age of 35 years to be eligible to contest the election.
He disclosed that on September 13, 2019, the commission wrote to the party drawing its attention to the constitutional age requirement of 35 years for Governorship/Deputy Governorship candidates as stipulated in Section 177(b) of the constitution.
According to him, the commission also informed them of the invalidity of their nomination for the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Mr Okoye also recalled that on September 21, 2019, and in response to the letter of the Commission dated September 13, 2019, the ANDP wrote the commission acknowledging the invalidity of its nomination and forwarding the name of one Inowei Janeth as their new deputy governorship candidate.
He said on September 27, 2019, the commission informed the party that the deadline for the submission of nominations as provided for in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission on May 16, 2019, was Sept. 9, 2019.
Mr Okoye noted that the commission also informed the party that since they did not submit a valid nomination, they couldn’t validly substitute any candidate.
He said following the development the name and logo of the party did not appear and was not reflected in the ballot paper.
The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja had on Monday nullified the election of Mr Diri.
The Justice Ibrahim Sirajo-led panel voided the outcome of the gubernatorial election that held in the state on November 16, 2019, over the exclusion of ANDP in the exercise.