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Bayelsa tribunal upholds Dickson’s election

By Oludare Richards, Abuja
27 July 2016   |   1:23 am
It was victory for Governor Seriake Dickson yesterday as the Bayelsa State Governorship Electoral Petitions Tribunal upheld his election.
Gov Seriake Dickson

Gov Seriake Dickson

It was victory for Governor Seriake Dickson yesterday as the Bayelsa State Governorship Electoral Petitions Tribunal upheld his election.

The tribunal dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Timipre Sylva, its candidate in the governorship election held in the state.

In the judgments delivered in Abuja, the tribunal held that the elections held in the Southern Ijaw Local Government in December 6, 2015 and January ‎9, 2016 were lawful.

The three-man panel led by Justice Kazeem Alogba held that Sylva and the APC failed to prove their case with credible evidence. It also held that from the evidence adduced before it, the election of December 6, 2015 was inconclusive and was rightfully rescheduled by the Independent National Election Tribunal (INEC) through the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).

The Tribunal also held that criminal allegations of various electoral offences which the petitioners said influenced the outcome of the electionss were not proven beyond reasonable doubt by them and that the petition was not backed by proof.
The tribunal further held that contrary to the position of the petitioner, election took place in Southern ‎Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

On the allegations of non-voting and snatching of electoral materials by thugs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the tribunal held that the petitioners failed woefully to substantiate them.

The tribunal ruled: “ On the allegations of acts of criminality, violence and snatching of ballot boxes, the onus of prove lies on the shoulders of the petitioners to prove beyond all reasonable doubt.

“Petitioners fell short of the requirements to prove allegations of non- voting ‎by calling only seven witnesses instead of calling witnesses from each of the polling units.”

Sylva and the APC had on January 30, 2016 filed a petition challenging the declaration of Dickson by INEC as the winner of the governorship election.

The election in the Southern Ijaw Local Government and some other parts of the state were initially rescheduled to take place on December 6, 2015, but were eventually cancelled after it was allegedly marred with widespread violence.

The petitioner had alleged that the election was marred by malpractices, intimidation of voters, hijacking of electoral materials, no-voting and non-collation of results in substantial parts of Sagbama, Yenogoa, Nembe, Ogbia, and Ekeremor local government areas.

The petitioners also contended that the INEC’s REC in the state lacked the power to unilaterally cancel the supplementary election scheduled in the Southern Ijaw Local Government for December 6, 2015 and rescheduled it to January 9, 2016.

The tribunal in its judgment held that the INEC was right and had the power to have cancelled the supplementary election held on December 6, 2015.

It held that contrary to the petitioners’ contention, the decision to cancel the December 6, 2015 poll was not unilaterally taken by the REC, but was a decision taken by INEC and “merely announced by the REC”.
Meanwhile, the APC and Sylva have vowed to appeal the judgment.