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Reason FHC disqualified APC candidate, Sylva

Reason FHC disqualified APC candidate, Sylva
Reason FHC disqualified APC candidate, Sylva (Photo: Punch Newspaper)

The Federal High Court(FHC) sitting in Abuja has disqualified the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Timipre Sylva for the governorship election billed to hold in Bayelsa State on November 11.

The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Donatus Okorowo, held that Sylva, who is the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, was not eligible to participate in the gubernatorial contest having already spent five years in office as governor of the state.

The court stressed that since the 1999 Constitution, as amended, okayed a maximum tenure of eight years for a governor, should Sylva contest and win the impending election, he would exceed the constitutional threshold by spending a total of 9 years in office.

Justice Okorowo held that uncontroverted evidence that was adduced before the court, established that Sylva had earlier taken the oath of office as Bayelsa state governor, on two occasions.

Relying on a Supreme Court decided case-law in Marwa Vs Nyako, the judge held that the constitution could not be stretched to elongate the statutory period that someone could serve as a governor in the country.

Consequently, he declared that Sylva was not a valid candidate for the forthcoming Bayelsa state governorship poll.

The court directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to remove his name from the list of candidates for the election.

The judgement followed a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023, which was brought against Sylva by a chieftain of the APC in the state, Mr. Demesuoyefa Kolomo.

The plaintiff had in the suit he filed on June 13, prayed the court to among other things, determine: “Whether having regard to the indisputable fact that Sylva occupied the office of governor of Bayelsa from May 29, 2007, to April 15, 2008, and May 27, 2008, to January 27, 2012, he is qualified to contest and be elected for another four years term in view of section 180(2)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

Upon the determination of the legal question, the plaintiff sought a declaration that by virtue of Section 182(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Sylva, was not qualified to contest the election to the office of the governor of Bayelsa on the APC platform or on any other political party’s platform in the election.

He further sought an order directing INEC to remove Sylva’s name from the list of the contestants into the office of the governor of Bayelsa on the APC platform or any other political party’s platform in the 11 November election or any other time for that matter as he was not qualified to contest the said poll.

The plaintiff told the court that he is not only a member of the APC, but also a registered voter in the state.

He averred that the ex-Minister was first elected to the office of governor on April 14, 2007 and assumed the said office on May 29, 2007, and was in the said office until April 15, 2008 when his election on April 14, 2007, was set aside by the court and he was removed from office.

Cited as 1st to 3rd defendants in the matter, were Sylva, the APC and the INEC, respectively.

Meanwhile, Sylva had in his defence, argued that he had only occupied the office of the governor of Bayelsa on one occasion, adding that he was elected into office on May 27, 2008.

In a counter-affidavit he filed before the court, Sylva contended that no valid election held in the state in 2007.

“I have only occupied the office of the governor of Bayelsa state on one occasion. I was elected as the governor of Bayelsa State on 27th May, 2008.

“Contrary to paragraph 5 of the affidavit, I know that by virtue of the Court of Appeal judgment referred to, that is now reported as Amgbare Vs. Sylva (2009) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1121), there was no election in Bayelsa State in 2007,” he added.

The erstwhile governor maintained that it was within his constitutional and legal rights to participate in the governorship contest.

He argued that sections 180 (2)(a) and 182 (1) (b) of the Constitution was not applicable in his case, a position that Justice Okorowo dismissed in his judgement.

The court held that it found merit in the case of the plaintiff.

Techrectory with Agency Report.

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Written by Percy Onyeka

A seasoned Tech/Business Analyst, Digital Media Consultant , Publisher and Entrepreneur with more than a decade experience. Online Editor in Chief-New National Star newspaper and a host of clients...

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