Sylva, APC Appeal Tribunal’s Judgment on Bayelsa Governorship Election

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, has appealed the July 26, 2016 judgment of the election tribunal which upheld the return of Seriake Dickson as winner of the last governorship election in the state.
His party, APC also filed a separate appeal.

In the appeal filed before the Court of Appeal, Abuja on August 14, 2016 by their lawyer, Sebastine Hon (SAN), they asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the tribunal.
They raised 24 grounds of appeal upon which they disagreed with the judgment of the tribunal.
They argued that the three-member tribunal, led by Justice Kazeem Alogba, misled itself, misapplied the law and came to wrong conclusion in its verdict.

Sylva and APC asked the Court of Appeal to, among others, set aside the judgment and grant his reliefs as contained in his petition or the alternative reliefs, including cancellation of the election and ordering fresh one.

The former governor and his party argued that the tribunal erred in law when it held that the reasons given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel the election was within the provision Section 26(1) of the Electoral Act (EA) 2010.

According to them, Section 26(1) of the Electoral Act has no provision for ‘cancellation’ of election, but postponement’ of election.

They argued that the phrase ‘other emergencies’ under Section 26(1) E A was limited to the action of INEC ‘postponing’ an election and not ‘cancelling one that had already taken place.’

Sylva, who noted that his major complaint was that INEC’s Electoral Officer in the state acted unlawfully in cancelling the result of elections already held in Southern Ijaw Local Government on December 6, 2015, the tribunal was wrong to have upheld INEC’s claim that the election was postponed.

He also claimed that the tribunal made contradictory findings when, after finding out that Forms EC8A, containing the polling unit results of election in Southern Ijaw LG, turned around to conclude that no valid election was held in the area on December 6, 2016.

They argued that the judges misdirected themselves in law when they held that the appellant (he) failed to prove and or tender any documents showing that election results had been uploaded on the datbase of INEC before the cancellation of the election and that such failure not only meant abandonment of pleading, but withholding of evidence, which if tendered, would be fatal to the appellants.

The appellants further faulted the tribunal, arguing that the judges erred in law when, in their haste to dismiss his case in respect of Southern Ijaw LGA, it deliberately refused to judicially evaluate the evidence called by the appellants in proof of their case in that local government area..

They also faulted the tribunal for failing to void Dickson’s election when it found, through credible evidence led, that the combined result of election recorded by both candidates was 48,146 less than the over 120,000 total registered voters in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.

The appellants argued that the tribunal erred in law when in spite of the strong case they made and proved, the tribunal proceeded to hold that Dickson was validly elected.
“The trial tribunal erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it failed to male definite pronouncement on the effect of the cancelled votes being more than the difference between the PDP and APC.

“The judges of the lower tribunal erred in law when they failed to give a ruling on the objection that exhibits R23(A -J) – R33(A -N) tendered by the 1st respondents were dumped on the tribunal, yet accorded the presumption of regularity in favour of the said exhibits and attached weight to them and relied on exhibits R23AJ – 36(A – I) in its judgment,” the appellants said.