Court Disqualifies Timipre Sylva, Bayelsa APC Governorship Candidate, 34 Days to Election

Court Disqualifies Timipre Sylva, Bayelsa APC Governorship Candidate, 34 Days to Election

Thirty four days to the Bayelsa State governorship election, a Federal High Court in Abuja has halted the quest of former governor Mr. Timipre Sylva from aspiring to lead the state again as its helmsman. His name can only resurface on the ballot if he is victorious at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme

Thirty four days to the Bayelsa State governorship election, a Federal High Court in Abuja has halted the quest of former governor Mr. Timipre Sylva from aspiring to lead the state again as its helmsman. His name can only resurface on the ballot if he is victorious at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

The Federal High Court, Abuja had while ruling on the two questions the plaintiff, Mr Demesuoyefa Kolomo raised and prayed the court to rule that the former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources was not qualified to run in the November 11 ,2023 governorship election.

The questions resolved by the Court were whether having regard to the indisputable facts that Mr Sylva was elected to the office of governor of Bayelsa on two previous occasions; April 14, 2007, and May 24, 2008, he was qualified to contest the 11 November election in view of Section 82 (1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

And: “Whether having regard to the indisputable fact that Sylva occupied the office of governor of Bayelsa May 29, 2007, to April 15, 2008, and May 27, 2008, to Jan. 27, 2012, he is qualified to contest and be elected to the office of governor of Bayelsa for another four years term in view of Section 180(2)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

Mr Kolomo, therefore prayed for a declaration that by virtue of Section 182(1)\(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Mr Sylva was not qualified to contest the election to the Office of the Governor of Bayelsa on the APC platform or on any other political party’s platform in the election.

In addition Mr Kolomo sought an order directing INEC to remove Mr Sylva’s name from the list of contestants into the Office of the Governor of Bayelsa on the APC platform or any other political party’s platform in the 11 November election or any other time for that matter as he was not qualified to contest the said poll.

According to him, the former oil minister was first elected to the office of governor, Bayelsa on 14 April, 2007 and assumed the said office on 29 May, 2007, and was in the said office until 15 April, 2008 when his election on 14 April, 2007, was nullified by the Court of Appeal. He was consequently removed from office.

Mr. Kolomo in court papers said Mr. Sylva was reelected on May 24, 2008, and assumed office as governor on May 27, 2008 until January 27, 2012.

In his judgement, Justice Donaltus Okorowo said Mr Sylva was not qualified to vie for the Bayelsa State governorship seat.

The judge held that Mr. Sylva, having taken the oath of office twice and ruled for five years as governor of Bayelsa, he would violate the 1999 constitution if allowed to run in the forthcoming poll.

Drawing strength in a Supreme Court decision in a suit between Marwa and Nyako, the judge held that the drafters of Nigeria’s constitution said nobody should be voted for as governor more than two times.

The judge noted that parties in the suit agreed that Mr Sylva was voted into office twice as governor.

Mr Sylva and his party , the All Progressives Congress (APC) are expected to challenge the decision up to the Supreme Court in the coming days.

However, the party stands a grave risk of not having a candidate for the election if the Supreme Court rules against Mr Sylva in the end, when the window for swapping candidates would have closed.

In the last cycle of the governorship election in the state ,the Supreme Court sacked the APC candidate,Mr. David Lyon, who had won the poll, on the eve of his inauguration due to some anomalies in the Deputy Governorship credentials.

But Mr Kolomo, a member of the APC, had urged the court to order the electoral commission to delete Mr Sylva’s name from the list of candidates vying in the 11 November governorship election in Bayelsa.

The suit which was filed in June by Mr Kolomo’s lawyer, Abiodun Amuda-Kannike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had INEC, the APC and Mr Sylva as defendants.

The plaintiff said he was motivated by the need to vindicate Sections 180 (2)(a) and 182(1)b) of the1999 Constitution, the rule of law and to know the applicability of the same as it relates to Sylva based on the above facts.

Mr Kolomo also noted that the question raised in the case was a constitutional one and of grave importance to him as a voter and other voters in the state so that they would not vote for someone who was not qualified to contest in the poll and had their votes wasted at the end of the day.

Mr Sylva had, in 2006, joined the PDP governorship primaries challenging ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who, at that time, was vying for the same position.

However, after Mr Sylva emerged as the PDP candidate, he went on to win the election in 2007. He succeeded Mr Jonathan, who had also become the Vice President to late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

But Mr Sylva’s opponent in the 2007 election, Ebitimi Amgbare of the defunct Action Congress (AC), challenged his victory.

While the Bayelsa State Election Petitions Tribunal upheld Mr Sylva’s election, Mr Amgbare appealed the case at the Appeal Court, Port Harcourt , Rivers State, which overturned the tribunal’s decision and nullified Mr Sylva’s election on April 15, 2008.

The appellate court ordered that Speaker Werinipre Seibarugo be inaugurated to replace Mr Sylva as acting governor, with a new election to be held within 90 days, as stated in the Electoral Act.

When a new election was held on 24 May 2008, Mr Sylva was again elected and was sworn in.

But on January 27, 2012, his tenure was terminated by the Supreme Court, with an acting governor appointed to oversee the state until the election of February 2012, won by Mr. Seriake Dickson..

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