Bayelsa: Appeal Court Reserves Judgment in Appeal Challenging Dickson’s Victory

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reserved judgment in the appeal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, challenging the election of Governor Seriake Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Before reserving judgment, the court struck out the preliminary objection filed by the PDP challenging the competence of the appeal.

The appellate court also refused the application by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to amend its brief by adding some words which it claimed were omitted.
The Court of Appeal heard multiple appeals arising from the judgment of the Bayelsa State governorship election tribunal which upheld Dickson’s election.

Arguing the main appeal, lead counsel to the appellants, Chief Sabastine Hon (SAN), submitted that the tribunal was in error when it dismissed the petition.

He submitted that the governorship tribunal misinterpreted section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2011, which he argued, dealt with postponement and not cancellation of an election.
He argued that the cancellation of the December 6, 2015 governorship election in Southern Ijaw rendered any other decision taken by INEC null and void.

He urged the court to reject the argument of the respondents that the appellants had waived their rights by participating in the January 9, 2016 re-scheduled election because the appellants indeed tendered a protest letter against the cancellation.

Hon therefore urged the court to grant the reliefs sought by his clients including the alternative reliefs.
In his arguments against the appeal, counsel to Dickson, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), said the appellants did not supply the results of the December 6, 2015 election but rather brought evidence showing that they participated in the January 9, 2016 election.

It was his contention that an election that did not produce result was no election, citing section 27 of the Electoral Act, 2011.

Oyetibo further argued that before the tribunal, the appellants did not produce evidence from polling units to prove allegations of electoral fraud and other forms of malpractices.

In urging the court to dismiss the petition, the lawyer argued that the appellants also failed to prove allegations of electoral violence.