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Timipre Sylva

A socio-cultural organisation, Niger-Delta Peace and Justice Movement on Sunday raised the alarm that the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last election in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, was trying to frustrate the Supreme Court from serving him with the counter appeal filed by the incumbent governor Henry Seriake Dickson.

The Bayelsa State Governorship Electoral Petitions Tribunal on Tuesday dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the last governorship election in the state, Timipre Sylva, challenging the victory of Governor Seriake Dickson.

The three-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice Kazeem Alogba, in dismissing the petition, held that Sylva and his party failed to prove their case with credible evidence.

It held that criminal allegations of various electoral offences which the petitioners had contended to have affected the outcome of the election were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

It held that the petition was not backed by proof and the required standard.

Justice Alogba held, “The petitioners failed to prove that the second respondent (Dickson) did not score the highest lawful votes. Therefore the return of the second respondent by the Independent National Electoral Commission on January 10, 2016 was valid.”

Sylva and the APC had on January 30, 2016 filed their petition challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of Dickson and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, as the winner of the governorship election held on December 5, 2015 with the supplementary one held on January 9, 2016.

The election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and some other parts of the state was initially rescheduled to take place on December 6, 2015 but was cancelled after it was marred at the early stage by violence.

The petitioner had alleged that the election was marred by malpractices, intimidation of voters, hijacking of electoral materials, non-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 Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state lacked the power to unilaterally cancel the supplementary election scheduled in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area for December 6, 2015 and rescheduled it to January 9, 2016.

But the tribunal in its judgment held that the INEC was right and had the power to have cancelled the supplementary election said to have 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 taken by INEC and “merely announced by the REC”.

It held that there was evidence that the earlier supplementary election scheduled to hold on December 6, 2015, was marred by widespread violence, malpractices and irregularities.

Justice Alogba held, “We have come to the conclusion that the election scheduled for December 6, 2015, was inconclusive.

“Therefore the rescheduling of the election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area to January 9, 2016 was proper and valid.”

The tribunal queried why Sylva and its party had to mobilise their supporters to participate in the January 9, 2016 election if indeed there was no basis for the election to hold.

It held that the the video evidence tendered by the petition showing while the REC cancelled the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area’s supplementary election of December 6, 2016 was against the interest of the petitioners as the clip showed the REC as giving the widespread violence and malpractices in the area as the reasons for the cancellation.

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