The Court of Appeal in Abuja has finally cleared the coast for former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva to participate in this Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The appellate court on Friday dismissed the last of the chains of suits seeking the exclusion of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the gubernatorial poll.
Delivering judgment in an appeal instituted against Sylva and two others by one Hon Isikima Ogbomade Johnson, Justice Binta Zubar held that the suit was not only unjustifiable but brought in bad faith by the appellant against the respondents.
The Court agreed with Chief James Ogwu Onoja, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), that the allegations of taking the oath of governorship office twice being held against Sylva cannot stand in the face of law because competent courts had invalidated the first one.
In the appeal marked CA/ABJ/CV/1052/2023, Justices Zubar also dismissed the allegations against APC that its April 14, 2023, primary election, which produced Sylva as flagbearer, was done in contravention of provisions of the law.
The unanimous judgment agreed with Onoja’s arguments that the overwhelming evidence adduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and APC pointed to the fact that all legal steps were taken in the conduct of the primary election.
Onoja SAN had, in his brief on behalf of Sylva, narrated how APC adopted direct primary as the mode of electing the governorship candidate and how a 5-man Electoral Committee on April 14 conducted the election in 106 Wards of the eight local government areas of Bayelsa.
The senior lawyer also listed how Sylva, with 52,062 votes, came first, while the appellant came fourth with 584 votes behind Joshua Maciver with 2,078 votes, David Perewomini Lyon with 1,584 votes, Ongoebi Etebu with 1,277 votes while Daumiebi Festus Sunday came last with 557 votes.
The Appeal Court said with the undisputed evidence coupled with the monitoring report of INEC as a statutory body, the allegations by the appellant that Sylva emerged without a primary election has no foundation.
“From the uncontroverted independent report of INEC, it was clear beyond any doubt that a valid primary election was conducted by APC and monitored by the electoral umpire as required by law,
Justice Zubar also held that the appellant’s case was statute barred having been instituted outside the 14 days allowed by law as a pre-election matter.
In totality, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo which on September 26 dismissed the suit for want of merit and substance.
Johnson had, by an originating summons, dragged APC, INEC and Sylva before the Federal High Court, praying for an order to disqualify him from being allowed to participate in the coming November governorship election in Bayelsa State.
She had predicated her grouse against Sylvia on two grounds – that Sylva had been elected into governorship office twice and took the oath of office and oath of allegiance twice and that the April 14 primary election that produced Sylva was illegal and unlawful, having been allegedly done in contravention with APC’s guidelines.
The High Court, however, dismissed the suit while the Court of Appeal affirmed its dismissal.