‘I only served one term in Bayelsa’ — Sylva asks court to disregard disqualification suit
By: Cletus Sunday Ilobanafor
Sat, 1 Jul 2023 || Nigeria,
- Timipre Sylva, governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa, has asked a federal high court in Abuja to disregard claims that he has served two terms as governor of the state.
- Sylva’s defence is contained in a counter affidavit he deposed and filed through Adelani Ajibade, his lawyer.
- The affidavit was in response to a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023, filed by Demesuoyefa Kolomo, a member of the APC.
- Kolomo wants the court to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delete Sylva’s name from the list of candidates contesting the governorship poll in Bayelsa on November 11.
- The plaintiff averred that by the provisions of section 182(1)(b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), Sylva was not qualified to contest the election on APC’s platform or any other political party’s platform because he was elected in April 2007 and May 2008.
- But in his affidavit, Sylva said he was elected once as the state’s governor, insisting there was no election in 2007.
- “I have only occupied the office of the governor of Bayelsa state on one occasion,” Sylva said.
- “I was elected as the governor of Bayelsa state on 27th May 2008.”
- While referencing a court of appeal judgment in April 2008 that nullified the 2007 election, the former minister maintained that he is within his constitutional and legal right to contest the governorship poll in November.
- BACKGROUND OF THE 2007/2008 POLL
- Sylva won the Bayelsa state governorship election which was held on April 14, 2007, polling 776,715 votes.
- He was the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and defeated Ebitimi Amgbare of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
- Aggrieved, Amgbare challenged the outcome of the poll at the tribunal.
- In its judgment, the tribunal affirmed Sylva’s election as the governor but Amgbare further appealed at the court of appeal.
- In a unanimous decision delivered on April 14, 2008, a five-member panel of judges in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, nullified the 2007 poll.
- The appeal court ordered the immediate swearing-in of Werinipre Seibarugo, speaker of the state house of assembly, as governor of the state, pending when a new election would be conducted.
- The court also ordered INEC to conduct a new governorship election in the state within three months.
- A fresh election was conducted on May 24 and Sylva was declared the winner of the poll.