Bayelsa poll: Sylva rejects tribunal verdict, plans appeal

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Timiprye SylvaThe governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State in last November governorship election and former Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, has stated his intention to appeal the tribunal judgment affirming the election of Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party as governor.

Sylva expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Affairs, Julius Bokoru, saying he was heading for the Court of Appeal to liberate Bayelsans.

The statement said he immediately held a meeting with elders and stakeholders of the party after the judgment.

According to the statement, the decision to appeal the judgment was taken at the meeting and Sylva also directed his legal team to make the necessary preparation.

Bokoru recalled that Sylva had earlier accused the tribunal of bias following several infractions observed by his lawyers during the hearing of the case.

Sylva said: “We are not satisfied with the decision of the tribunal. But this is just a court of first instance and after meeting with the elders and critical stakeholders of our great party, the APC, we directed our legal team to seek justice for Bayelsa at the Supreme Court.”

But Governor Diri welcomed the tribunal verdict, saying it would serve as motivation for him to serve the state better.

The  Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, in a judgment on Monday, upheld Diri’s victory in the November 11, 2023 governorship election in the state.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared that Diri of the PDP polled 175,196 votes to defeat his closest rival, Sylva of the APC, who scored 110,108 votes.

Reacting in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary,  Daniel Alabrah, Diri said the tribunal judgment had proven again that the judiciary was the last hope of the common man.

While describing the lawsuit as “a needless distraction”, he said he could not squarely focus on governance and delivery of dividends of democracy to the people of Bayelsa State.

“Matters like these are mere distractions in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people, particularly against the backdrop that we had an election that was adjudged to be one of the freest and the fairest. And yet we have been distracted over this period. I want to let the Bayelsa people know that we are still for you and will continue to work for you and walk with you until the final day of our administration.

“Once again, l use this opportunity to thank my people of Bayelsa State who graciously and freely gave me this mandate. lt is actually not my victory but it is for the people of Bayelsa.

“As l always pledge, our administration is people-focused and people-oriented. So this will again give us a better latitude to continue to deliver the dividends of democracy to our people,” Diri said.

Diri expressed appreciation to his legal team for its commitment and passion and all those who worked hard towards securing a sound judgment.

A three-man panel led by Justice Adekunle Adeleye dismissed the petition filed by Sylva and the APC against Diri for lacking in merit.

In a unanimous decision, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove any credible evidence to back up any of the allegations they raised against the re-election victory of Diri.

The tribunal held that the petitioners’ prayers were contradictory, adding that Sylva and APC did not tender any electoral material to show that any irregularity occurred during the election.

The tribunal also held that the petitioners were unable to discharge the burden of proof that was placed on them by the law.

The panel said the petitioners failed to show, “polling units by polling units evidence of the non-compliance submitted and how it substantially affected the outcome of the election.”

The tribunal struck out as incompetent all the additional proof of evidence as well as statements on oath of some of the witnesses who testified for the petitioners.


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