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Bayelsa Polls:  Dickson Moves to Bar Sylva from Contesting Election

YENAGOA, BAYELSA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – More trouble looms for the defeated candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 governorship election in Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva as Governor Henry Seriake Dickson initiates legal fireworks to disqualify Sylva from ever contesting governorship election.

After losing the last election, Sylva who had been governor of the state between May, 2007 and February, 2012 approached the Bayelsa State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja seeking to be declared winner but lost his bid on all grounds. Rather, the tribunal upheld the election of Dickson but Sylva, to the disappointment of analysts appealed the judgement.

But Dickson who expressed dissatisfaction with the tribunal for refusing to bar Sylva from contesting governorship election having taken governorship oath of office twice, has cross appealed the judgement of the tribunal in which he won.

In a cross appeal filed on Monday, August 15, Dickson’s lead counsel, Tayo Oyetibo contended that by virtue of section 182(1) b of the 1999 Constitution, Sylva having been elected governor of Bayelsa State on two previous occasions is neither qualified to contest election into that office again or present any petition challenging Dickson’s victory at the polls.

Section 182(1) b of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states: “No person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a state if … he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections.’’

Sylva, it will be recalled contested the governorship election in the state on 14th April, 2007, won and was sworn in on May 29, 2007. Luck ran out of him on 15th April, 2008 when the Court of Appeal nullified his election on grounds that it was fraught with irregularities and directed him to hand over to the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly. Consequent upon the annulment, a new election was conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on 24th May, 2008 in which Sylva was returned as elected. Consequently, Sylva took another oath of allegiance and oath of office on May 29, 2008 and exercised the powers of a governor until February 14, 2012 when Governor Dickson was sworn in.

While quoting copiously from decided Supreme Court cases such as Brig. Gen. Muhammed Buba Marwa versus ADM. Murtala Nyako, Dickson affirmed that Sylva was not qualified to challenge his re-election at the tribunal and urged the Appeal Court to strike out the petition and formally disqualify Sylva from ever running for governorship having been sworn in twice as governor.

Special Adviser to Governor Dickson on Media Relations, Mr. Francis Agbo said having woefully lost the election in seven out of eight local government areas in the state in spite of the manipulation and intimidation of voters by the federal agencies, Sylva should have congratulated Governor Dickson and joined hands with the governor to restore the lost glory of the state and not to write a petition that is atbest ‘‘watery, bare in content and was as usual, dead on arrival.’’

While stressing that Sylva has a bad case having been totally rejected by the people, a decision which the tribunal has upheld, his appeal was an unnecessary distraction but the governor will never be distracted from serving his people because according to him, his boss has his hands on the plough and the Bible says a man who has his hands on the plough will never look back.

Agbo accused Sylva and his APC friends in high places of terrorizing the Nigerian Judiciary to make Sylva governor through the backdoor. While advising Sylva to stop dragging the judiciary in the mud, the governor’s image maker urges the Judiciary not to be blackmailed.


Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=34964

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