Appeal Court Dismisses Suit Seeking Sylva’s Exclusion From Bayelsa Governorship Election

Appeal Court Dismisses Suit Seeking Sylva’s Exclusion From Bayelsa Governorship Election

The Appeal Court on Friday cleared former Minister of Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva to participate in the Saturday governorship election.

This comes less than 24 hours to conduct the governorship election in Bayelsa.

The Appellate Court dismissed the last of the chains of suits seeking the exclusion of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the poll.

Delivering judgment in an appeal instituted against Mr Sylva and two others by Isikima Johnson, Justice Binta Zubar held that the suit was unjustifiable and brought in bad faith by the appellant against the respondents.

The court agreed with James Onoja, SAN, that the allegations of taking an oath of governorship office twice being held against Mr Sylva could not stand in the face of the law because competent courts had invalidated the first one.

In the appeal marked CA/ABJ/CV/1052/2023, Justices Zubar also dismissed the allegations against APC that its April 14, 2023, primary election, which produced Mr Sylva as the flagbearer, was done in contravention of provisions of the law.

In a unanimous judgment, the court agreed with Mr Onoja’s arguments that the overwhelming evidence adduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and APC pointed to the facts that all legal steps were taken in the conduct of the primary election.

Mr Onoja had, in his brief on behalf of Mr Sylva, narrated how APC adopted direct primary as a mode of electing the governorship candidate.

Also, how a five-man electoral committee on April 14 conducted the election in 106 wards of Bayelsa’s eight local government areas.

The senior lawyer also listed how Mr Sylva, with 52,062 votes, came first, while the appellant came fourth with 584 votes behind Joshua Maciver’s 2078 votes.

David Lyon had 1,584 votes, Ongoebi Etebu had 1,277 votes, and Daumiebi Festus Sunday came last with 557 votes.

The Appeal Court said with the undisputed evidence coupled with the monitoring report of INEC as a statutory body, the allegations by the appellant that Mr Sylva emerged without a primary election had no foundation.

Justice Zubar also held that the appellant’s case was statute-barred, having been instituted outside the 14 days allowed by law as a pre-election matter.

In totality, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, which on September 26 dismissed the suit for want of merit and substance.

By an originating summons, the appellant dragged APC, INEC and Sylva before the Federal High Court, praying for an order to disqualify him from participating in the election.

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