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Tension In Bayelsa As Governorship Election Tribunal Delivers Judgment

Posted: Jul 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Igoniko Oduma

Yenagoa – The Bayelsa State governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja is set to deliver its judgment on Tuesday , July 26 2016, Independent has learnt.

Mr. Timipre Sylva, former governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is contesting the victory of incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Dickson winner of the election conducted  between December 2015 and January 2016 with 134,998 votes while Sylva got 86,852 votes.

Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dickson and Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, the media adviser to Sylva, confirmed to Independent  in separate telephone chats on Monday that the panel would give its ruling on Tuesday.

Both Iworiso-Markson and Buokoribo said that the tribunal had scheduled to give its ruling in Sylva’s petition at 3pm.

There has been tension in Bayelsa since the end of June when the chairman of the tribunal announced that the date of judgment would be communicated 48 hours to the day it would be delivered.

In the last stage of arguments by all parties in the case, the panel following an Appeal Court ruling in favour of the petitioner had allowed the petitioner’s video recording it had earlier turned down to be played in an open court.

Sylva had tendered the video recording as evidence to show alleged malpractices in the conduct of the polls that brought Dickson to office for second term ­between December 2015 and January 2016.

Though  Dickson had informed the tribunal through his lawyers that he had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court, the tribunal allowed the video recording to be played in the open court.

With that done, all the parties in the suit adopted their final briefs of argument.

The petitioner, Sylva, prayed the  tribunal to grant the reliefs sought in his petition and declare him duly elected while the respondents, INEC and Dickson and his party, the PDP, asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lack of substance and merit.

Sylva represented by his lawyer Mr. Sebastine Hon (SAN) had claimed in his petition that INEC’s  Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) lacked the powers to cancel election.

While the APC candidate claimed in his petition that the REC cancelled the election, the respondents including Dickson, his party, the PDP and INEC argued that the election was merely postponed.

Tension however increased on Thursday, July 21  2016 , when the Supreme Court in its ruling dismissed Dickson’s appeal filed by his counsel Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) to over turn the ruling of the Court of Appeal that the video evidence at the tribunal  be played in the open court.

A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal and agreed with Sylva’s lawyer that Dickson’s objection to the playing of the video by the tribunal “was misplaced, unwarranted, baseless, lacking in merit.”

Ahead of the delivery of judgment by the tribunal, Dickson had relocated to Abuja even as he and Sylva had been engaged in a war of words over the issues argued at the panel and the possible outcome.

In the latest of the war of words penultimate week, Sylva through Buokoribo reacted to what he termed “a dangerous campaign in a few online media outlets and the social media that bears all the hallmarks of the PDP candidate, Governor Dickson’s frequently used bully-boy tactics”.

Sylva denied the governor’s claims that he was lobbying  Mrs Aisha Buhari, the President’s wife, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Babachir David Lawal, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and other officials of the Federal Government to put pressure on the election panel  to declare him (Sylva) governor through a “black market judgement”.

He described as “immoral and despicable” attempts by Dickson “to second-guess the decision of the tribunal”.