22 September 2016
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, on Thursday upheld the election of Seriake Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as governor of Bayelsa.
A former governor of the state, Timipre Sylva of the APC, had challenged the decision of the election tribunal that returned Dickson in the January 9, 2016 poll.
Delivering judgment, Justice Olukayode Bada led other four justices to decide all the five issues raised in the appeal by Sylva.
“I have carefully studied the issues raised by the appellant and found them to be frivolous and lacking in substance.
“The appellant had tried very hard to approbate and reprobate. This is not allowed in any of our statues.
“By his sheer participation in the January 9 rescheduled election in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state meant that he lost his right to raise any issue on the polls of December 6, 2015 which was postponed,’’ he held.
Bada also said that the appellant was unable to prove the allegation of non-compliance to the Electoral Act, adding that he failed to discharge the burden of proof sufficiently.
The judge further said that the appellant was wrong to assert that the results from the aborted Southern Ijaw election were cancelled.
“Available evidence shows that no results were collated from the exercise as the poll was proven to have been marred by irregularities and malpractices.
“The appellant was also wrong when he said he was coasting to victory if all the 120,000 eligible voters in Southern Ijaw were allowed to vote.
“This for us, was a mere wish as the appellant could have been sure of attracting majority of those votes,’’ Bada said.
On whether the Resident Electoral Commissioner was right to have cancelled the election, Bada said the Electoral Act gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the power to mandate any of its officers to do so.
“It is indisputable that the appellant and his political party contested the rescheduled election on January 9. It was this participation that removed the rug from their feet. It had made them bare-footed.
“In other words, since the appellant voluntarily participated in the rescheduled election, he cannot now turn around to condemn the exercise in law.
“He cannot be allowed to blow cool and hot at the same time,’’ he said.
The judge also held that: “no matter the enormity of the allegation of non-compliance, the appellant is still very much required to prove it. He has substantially failed to do so.’’
Bada said the appellant also failed to convince the court that the first respondent (Dickson) did not score the majority of lawful votes.
“With the resolution of all these five issues against the appellant and made in favour of Dickson, the appeal is hereby dismissed and parties are to bear their costs,’’ he held.
The court, however, dismissed two cross appeals brought by PDP and the governor, describing them as counterproductive actions.
The Election Tribunal in Bayelsa held on July 26 that the supplementary election that took place on January 9 was proper and valid.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa had challenged the return of Dickson in the election, saying the entire process was untidy.
The APC claimed that the victory of the governor was a result of manipulation of results announced by INEC.
The APC also questioned the cancellation of results in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area regarded as its stronghold.