The Supreme Court has fixed today to hear the appeal filed by former Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson against a suit seeking his disqualification from contesting the concluded Bayelsa West Senatorial District’s election.
The Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal had, on January 7, 2021, ruled that the disqualification suit against Dickson was not statute barred and should be given accelerated hearing by the Federal High Court.
The three-man panel of the court disagreed with the Federal High Court’s decision to dismiss the matter, saying the judgment of the lower court was wrong.
The panel, presided over by Justice U. Onyemenam, explained that the appeal was based on whether by the provisions of the Electoral Act and Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the originating process of the applicant was statute barred.
Justice Onyemenam said the suit was filed within 14 days, beginning from the publication of the particulars of the candidate by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said: “We had looked at it and have come to the agreement that for the public to be aware and to be able to challenge any particulars of a candidate published by INEC (first respondent), the first respondent would have to publish it first.
“We did not agree with the submission of the second respondent (the PDP) and the third respondent (Dickson) on this issue. We agree with the appellant that the cause of action arose on September 17 (2020). Based on this, this appeal has merit and is hereby allowed.”
The court also said: “The ruling of the Federal High Court is hereby set aside. The appellants’ motion ex parte for substituted service is granted. All processes shall be served on the third respondent by pasting on the office of the second respondent.
“The suit is hereby transferred back to the Federal High Court for trial on the merit. We order accelerated hearing and make no order as to cost.”
But Dickson approached the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
The first respondent, Owoupele Eneoriekumoh, had, through his lawyers, P. D. Pius Esq and E. A. Aluzu, filed a suit seeking the disqualification of Dickson on grounds of presentation of false information to INEC.