Supreme Court dismisses Dickson’s appeal
The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck out two appeals filed by Seriake Dickson and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against a suit seeking his disqualification from contesting the concluded Bayelsa West Senatorial District election.
Mr Dickson, a former governor of Bayelsa State, had won the bye-election.
He had appealed a Court of Appeal ruling which set aside a ruling by the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, which dismissed a suit seeking to disqualify him from contesting in the senatorial election.
Justice Mary Odili, who led a five-member panel of justices, held that the appeals lacked merit and struck out both appeals after Mr Dickson and the PDP lawyers agreed to formally withdraw the appeals.
The apex court agreed with the lawyer to the first respondent (Owoupele Eneoriekumoh), Pius Pius that, having earlier filed a notice of withdrawal, he could no longer take further steps except to withdraw the appeal.
“Once a party files a notice of withdrawal, the only further step such an appellant could take is to formally withdraw the appeal, not to abandon the withdrawal notice and seek to be heard on the same notice of appeal,” the court said.
Mr Dickson had earlier applied to withdraw the appeal, but later changed his mind and filed a motion, seeking to have the appeal heard.
Also while striking out the appeal by the PDP, the apex court noted that the appellant filed a notice of appeal without specifying the judgment of the Court of Appeal that was being appealed against.
The respondents, however, objected to the motion, arguing that, having applied to withdraw for whatever reason, he could no longer change his mind.
The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, had on January 7, 2021 ruled that the disqualification suit against Mr Dickson was not statute barred and should be given accelerated hearing by the Federal High Court.
The three-member panel disagreed with the Federal High Court’s decision to dismiss the matter, saying the judgment of the lower court was wrong.
The Court of Appeal panel, presided by Justice U. Onyemenam, explained 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.
The panel 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).
Justice Jane Inyang of the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, had thrown out the suit filed by Mr Owoupele for lack of jurisdiction declaring that the suit was statute barred for being filed after the constitutionally stipulated time to do so.
Mr Owoupele’s lawyers, led by Pius Danba and Ebikebuna Aluzu, proceeded to the Court of Appeal seeking to upturn the verdict of the lower court.
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