Again, Appeal Court dismisses suit seeking Timipre Sylva’s exclusion from Bayelsa Guber poll.
* Fines appellant N1M*
By Kayode Lawal
November 10, 2023
In less than 24 hours to conduct of Governorship election in Bayelsa State, the Court of Appeal in Abuja has finally cleared the coast for former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva to participate in the Saturday’s governorship.
The Appellate Court on Friday dismissed the last of the chains of suits seeking exclusion of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship candidate in the gubernatorial poll.
Delivering judgment in an appeal instituted against Sylva and two others by one Hon Isikima Ogbomade Johnson,.Justice Binta Zubar held that the suit was not only unjusticeable but brought in bad faith by the appellant against the respondents.
The Court agreed with Chief James Ogwu Onoja, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), that the allegations of taking of oath of governorship office twice being held against Sylva cannot stand in the face of law because the first one had been invalidated by competent Courts.
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 Sylva as flagbearer was done in contravention of provisions of the law.
The unanimous judgment agreed with 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.
Onoja SAN had in his brief on behalf of Sylva narrated how APC adopted direct primary as mode of electing the governorship candidate and how a 5-man Electoral Committee on April 14 conducted the election in 106 Wards of the 8 Local Government Areas of Bayelsa.
The senior lawyer also also listed how Sylva with 52062 votes came first, while the appellant came fourth with 584 votes behind Joshua Maciver 2078 votes, David Perewomini Lyon 1584 votes, Ongoebi Etebu 1277 votes while 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 that Sylva emerged without a primary election has no foundation.
“From the uncontroverted independent report of INEC, it was clear beyond any doubt that a valid primary election was conducted by APC and monitored by the electoral umpire as required by law.”
Justice Zubar also held that the case of the appellant 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 a Federal High Court in Abuja delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo which on September 26 dismissed the suit for want of merit and substance.
Mrs Johnson had, by an originating summons, dragged APC, INEC and Sylva before the Federal High court, praying for an order to disqualify him from being allowed to participate in the coming November governorship election in Bayelsa State.
She had predicated her grouse against Sylvia on two grounds Sylva had been elected into governorship office twice and took the oath of office and oath of allegiance twice.
At the same time, she also claimed that the April 14 primary election that produced Sylva was illegal and unlawful, having been allegedly done in contravention with APC’s guidelines.
The High Court however dismissed the suit while the Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal of the suit.