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Bayelsa poll: Court to deliver judgment in suit seeking Sylva’s disqualification on Tuesday

By NAN
22 September 2023   |   12:12 pm
A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned the judgement in a suit seeking disqualification of Mr. Timipre Sylva from contesting the Nov. 11 Bayelsa governorship poll until Tuesday.

Timipre Sylva

A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned the judgement in a suit seeking disqualification of Mr. Timipre Sylva from contesting the Nov. 11 Bayelsa governorship poll until Tuesday.

The matter, which was on the day’s cause list, however, could not go on due to Justice Inyang Ekwo’s absence.
The court, therefore, fixed Sept. 26 for judgement.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Ekwo had, on July 6, fixed the date for the judgement.
The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/575/2023, was filed by Mrs. Ogbomade Johnson, an All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirant for the Bayelsa governorship election, against Sylva, the immediate-past Minister of State for Petroleum.

NAN reports that Mrs. Johnson, in the suit dated April 24 but filed April 27, sued APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Sylva as the 1st to 3rd respondents, respectively.

She prayed the court for an order of mandatory injunction compelling INEC to delist the names of APC and Sylva from the list of political parties and candidates for the November election.

The aggrieved aspirant also prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining Sylva from parading himself as the APC’s governorship candidate in Bayelsa, among others.

She sought a declaration that the APC was duty-bound in contract to commence and conclude the primary election in Bayelsa in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the regulations and guidelines of the political party, after having demanded and received the sum of N10 million from her, along with the other five aspirants.

Johnson further sought a declaration that, by virtue of the conduct of the APC’s primary poll on April 14 in contravention of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, and the regulations and guidelines of the political party, the APC had no candidate to field for the poll, among other reliefs.

The APC had cleared Mrs. Johnson, Sylva, Joshua Maciver, Festus Daumiebi, Mrs. Maureen Ongoebi and David Lyon as aspirants in the April 14 primaries.

In the primary election conducted in the 102 of the 105 wards of the eight local governments in the state, Sylva was said to have scored 52, 061 votes; Maciver scored 2, 078; Johnson scored 584; Daumiebi scored 557; Ongoebi scored 1, 277; and Lyon scored 1, 584 votes.

In a counter affidavit deposed to by Sylva, the ex-minister prayed to the court to dismiss the suit.
Contrary to Johnson’s deposition, he was eminently qualified to contest for election into the Office of Governor of Bayelsa and did not suffer from any disqualifying factor that barred him from contesting.

He averred that he had only served as Bayelsa governor on one occasion. Besides, Sylva averred that he vied for the APC primary alongside five others, including Johnson, on April 14.

He said he emerged as its candidate having polled the highest votes from the votes collated from 102 out of 105 wards in the eight local government areas where party members voted in a direct primary in accordance with the guidelines for polls, the APC’s constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022.

Contrary to Johnson’s argument, the primary was held and the results in which he garnered the majority of the votes was accepted and he received congratulatory messages from major APC stakeholders in the state, indicative of the fact that his victory reflected the aspirations of the party members.

Also, the APC, in its counter affidavit deposed to by Dr Stanley Ugboaja, the chief of staff to deputy national organising secretary, asked the court to dismiss the suit.

The party argued that the judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on Jan. 27, 2012, in respect of the consolidated appeal was actually in support of Sylva’s bid for a second term in office and not against it as falsely stated by Johnson.

It said that the direct primary poll was conducted by its national body in accordance with the guidelines for the conduct of same as well as the provisions of the Electoral Act and its constitution.

The APC, which averred that INEC monitored the poll, also said that the electoral umpire issued a report in respect of the primaries.

“An appeal against the result of the said primaries was lodged with the Appeals Committee of the ist defendant.

“The Appeal Committee rejected the said appeal as unmeritorious. A copy of the report of the Appeal Committee is attached herewith and marked Exhibit F.

“That by a letter dated 13th April, 2023, the plaintiff was requested to provide the list of her agents in all the 105 electoral wards in Bayelsa State but she failed to comply.

“She did not even bother to vote in her electoral ward. A copy of the said letter is attached herewith and marked Exhibit G,” the party told the court.

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