Bayelsa Poll: Tribunal Grants Sylva’s Application to Inspect Materials


Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Abuja monday granted the request of the former Governor of the state and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, to inspect some materials used for the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 governorship election held in the state.

The tribunal however refused the request of the petitioners for the inspection of some listed items including the final and interim reports on Kogi State governorship election; summary of total voter register; video/audio record relating to the governorship election; election observers’ report and duplicate or receipt issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for verification of documents.

But in a swift reaction, Governor Seriake Dickson said the request granted Sylva to inspect election materials would not change the fact that he was not wanted by the people of the state.

In a statement by his Media Aide, Francis Agbo, the governor stated “PDP is very confident of victory at the tribunal because Governor Henry Seriake Dickson won the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 polls with valid votes, with a wide margin in the full glare of the world.

“Sylva is in the tribunal to gasp for political oxygen and to use it to raise funds from unsuspecting APC chieftains for survival. Sylva cannot win because his petition is watery and lacking content and since you can not build something on nothing, there are no grounds for pronouncing him governor.

“Whereas APC is not on ground in Bayelsa, Sylva is a political reject and can not become governor through the back-door as boasted by the APC because he knows he lost the election and the tribunal can not make him governor from the blues.”

In his application to inspect the materials, the petitioner, had through his counsel, Chief Sabastine Hon (SAN) specifically sought an order of the tribunal to compel the chairman INEC to allow him inspect election materials used for the polls.

Among the 37 materials sought to be inspected are the ballot papers used and thumb printed.
However, in his opposition to the request, Dickson urged the tribunal to refuse the application for lacking in merit.

His lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN submitted that the prayers in the application of Sylva did not support what he wanted the Tribunal to do for him.
In his ruling yesterday, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Kazeem Alogba held that the request by the petitioners was in line with the provisions of section 151 (1) of the Electoral Act.

He however refused to grant part of the request on the grounds that they were not relevant.
Meanwhile the tribunal has fixed April 14, 2016 for continuation of pre-trial proceedings.
In objecting the request for the inspection of some election materials, the governor’s counsel had specifically insisted that the petitioner’s request was vague because it failed to mention the author or maker of the material sought to be inspected.

According to him, it is a well settled principle of law that prayers or reliefs sought by a party to an action must be precise, unambiguous and capable of being granted by court.

He cited the case law of Co-Op Dev. Bank Plc v Joe Golday Co. Limited; Arhuru v Delta Steel Co. Limited and Agbaisi & Ors v Ebikorefe & Ors to support his argument.

Besides, Dickson’s counsel claimed that the petitioner failed to give reasons on why he wanted to inspect the materials used for the election, adding that the request also violated section 104 of the Evidence Act because the mandatory fee for certification of the materials was not paid by the petitioner.