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Supreme Court dismisses Lokpobiri’s appeal, affirms Lyon APC candidate

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The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the appeal filed by former Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, against the candidacy of Bayelsa State Governor-elect, David Lyon.

Lokpobiri and Lyon are both members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, but he (Lokpobiri) had approached the court challenging Lyon’s candidacy against all entreaties.

The five-man panel of Supreme Court justices led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, unanimously dismissed the appeal wherein Lokpobiri sought to be declared the winner of the September 4, 2019, primary election of the APC in the state.

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Delivering the lead judgment, Justice John Inyang Okoro affirmed the January 11, 2020 judgment of the Port Harcourt Division of the Appeal Court, which held that Lokpobiri’s suit filed at the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, challenging Lyon’s victory in the primary election was filed out of time stipulated by law.

Justice Isaiah Olufemi, who read the judgment, said Lokpobiri filed the suit out of time, as he failed to comply with the statutory 14 days period.

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“The matter was filed on September 18, outside the 14 days statutory period. The petition was not filed within time,” he said.

And in the unanimous judgment read by Justice Okoro, the apex court maintained that the cause of action took place on September 4, 2019, when APC’s congress was held and the winner announced, as against September 7, 2019, when the party submitted Lyon’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Consequently, it dismissed the main appeal filed by Lokpobiri, wherein he prayed the court to declare him the authentic APC flag bearer in the November 16, 2019, Bayelsa State gubernatorial election.

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The Guardian recalled that Lokpobiri, who was aggrieved over the process that produced Lyon as the party’s governorship candidate, went to court to challenge the outcome of the primary on the ground that he, and not the Governor-elect, won the primaries.

He had asked the court to compel INEC to consider him as the lawful candidate of APC and accord him the rights, privileges and perquisites in the governorship poll.

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