Bayelsa poll: Court of Appeal reserves judgment on Sylva’s suit


The Court of Appeal in Abuja has deferred its decision on the governorship appeals brought by the All Progressives Congress, APC and its candidate, Timipre Sylva, challenging the ruling of the Bayelsa State governorship election tribunal.

The tribunal had previously upheld the victory of Governor Douye Diri and his deputy, Senator Lawrence Oborwahariewo, dismissing the APC’s petition for lacking merit.

In a session held on Tuesday, the three-man panel, led by Justice James Abundaga, reserved judgment after both parties presented their arguments. 

The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove any credible evidence to back up any of the allegations they raised against the re-election victory of Diri.

The tribunal declared that the prayers of the petitioners were contradictory.

The Justices unanimously concluded that Sylva and the APC failed to present any electoral material to substantiate their claims of irregularities during the election.

Sylva dissatisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, approached the tribunal to set aside the judgment.

At Tuesday’s sitting, after parties in the suit adopted their written addresses, the three-man panel of the appeal court led by Justice James Abundaga, reserved judgment in the appeals.

Counsel to the respondents in the suit, in their arguments, asked the court to dismiss the appellant’s suit, while the appellant’s counsel asked the court to dismiss their arguments.

Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) led the appellant’s legal team, while Charles Uwensuyi-Edosomwan (SAN) appeared for the Independent National Electoral Commission, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) led Governor Diri’s legal team, A former Attorney General of Imo State, Chukwuma Machukwu (SAN) appeared for the deputy governor while Tayo Eyitayo (SAN) appeared for the Peoples Democratic Party.

Oborwahariewo’s counsel, in his argument, asked the appeal court to resolve all three issues mentioned in the appeal in their favour.

He urged the court to hold that the appeal lacked merit and should be dismissed.

He explained that the appellants failed to convincingly prove their allegations of unlawful exclusion or non-collation of election results from the 184 polling units in Nembe, Ogbia, and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas.

He stated that, given similar circumstances in the case, the tribunal was correct in not relying on the evidence presented by the appellant’s witnesses.

“The finding of the lower court concerning the credibility of the evidence of the Pw52 (Dr Dennis Otiotio) was right and not perverse.

“That the appellants, having voluntarily participated in the process of reading the bar code on the said polling unit result sheets, can no longer complain about the process and the result of the said process,”he said.

He stated that the appellants failed to meet the burden of proof, as they did not demonstrate that lawful votes in their favor were excluded and not properly collated.

Uche said, “I urge my Lords to dismiss the appeal for grossly lacking in merit. I have looked at the appellant’s brief, and it is rather invalid. Election matters are suis generis and I pray the suit be dismissed.”

Ikepazu, however, urged the court to dismiss the respondents’ preliminary objections.

He said, “We adopt our submissions and urge my Lords to dismiss the preliminary objection”.

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