Factional National Chairman of the Advanced Nigerian Democratic Party (ANDP), James Femowei, has distanced himself from the petition that annulled Governor Douye Diri’s victory at the November 16, 2019 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State.
He maintained that his party never had a candidate for the contest, having supposedly adopted Diri for the exercise.
The election petition tribunal, in a split judgment of two to one, last Monday, invalidated the poll over exclusion of the party.
Delivering the majority judgment in the petition filed by the ANDP and its governorship candidate, Lucky George, Justice Yunusa Musa declared that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacked the powers to exclude duly nominated candidates from contests.
He, thereafter, went ahead to void the election and ordered the electoral umpire to conduct a fresh exercise that includes the ANDP within 90 days.
However, Diri, last Tuesday in a 12-ground of appeal filed at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, prayed for the setting aside of the majority judgment and upholding of the minority decision delivered by Justice Muhammad Sirajo, which affirmed his election.
But a new development yesterday saw Femowei challenging his rival, Charles Ogboli, to produce evidence authenticating the conduct of a primary and George’s emergency as a standard-bearer.
He maintained that his party never filed a complaint against INEC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Diri at the tribunal.
Stating that the party had no candidate in the said election, Femowei added that ANDP and its National Working Committee did not conduct any primary in Bayelsa State.
He continued: “There is an urgent need to address the press and put records straight in respect of the participation of the ANDP in the Bayelsa gubernatorial election held on November 16, 20l9 and the position of the party on the outcome of the election petition tribunal delivered on August 17, 2020.
“ANDP Bayelsa State did not present any candidate for the purpose of contesting the November 16, 2019 governorship election as it had earlier adopted Senator Douye Diri of the PDP.
“The NWC or State Exco did not attend any purported ANDP primary in Bayelsa before the election. How, where, when, which and how was the primary held without the involvement of the party organs in the state? Barrister (Charles) Ogboli should thus produce the list of members who attended the primary or, INEC can equally produce the attendance list of the National Working Committee members and the State Exco who were present at the ANDP primary.”
He claimed that Ogboli had been expelled for alleged misconduct.