26 July 2016
The Governorship Election Tribunal for Bayelsa sitting in Abuja on Tuesday upheld the election of Gov. Seriake Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Timipre Sylva and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Jan. 30 challenged Dickson’s return as governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s at the tribunal.
INEC had declared Dickson as winner of the Dec.5, 2015 and Jan. 9, 2016 re-run governorship election.
In the judgment, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Kazeem Alogba, held that there was no evidence to prove widespread illegality during the election.
Alogba, who led two other justices, also held that Sylva and his party failed to prove their case with credible evidence.
He also held that the allegations of various criminal and electoral offences which the petitioners stated affected the outcome of the election, were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“The petition was not backed by proof of required standard and therefore lacks merit,’’ he declared.
Alogba also held that INEC was right and had the power to have cancelled the supplementary election conducted on Dec 6, 2015 with proven evidence of malpractices.
He further held that contrary to the petitioners’ contention, the decision to cancel the Dec. 6, 2015 poll was not unilaterally taken by the Resident Electoral Commissioner.
The tribunal chairman said evidence showed that the decision was taken by the INEC National Headquarters.
“There was sufficient evidence that the earlier supplementary election scheduled to hold on Dec. 6, 2015, was marred by widespread violence, malpractices and irregularities,’’ Alogba held.
“In the light of this, the petition filed against the victory of Mr Dickson Seriake in the Bayelsa State governorship election fails.
“Seriake is therefore duly returned as governor having scored the highest votes in that election,’’ he ruked.
Mr Sebastine Hon (SAN), counsel to Sylva had alleged widespread malpractices against the PDP in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, during the Dec. 5 and Dec.6, 2015 governorship election, and the re-run held on Jan. 9, 2016.
He claimed that the Resident Electoral Commissioner erred by failing to complete the election process, which was declared inconclusive.
The petitioner had alleged that the election was marred by malpractices, intimidation of voters, hijacking of electoral materials, non-voting and non-collation of results in parts of the state.
Sylva argued that the impact of the illegality were substantial in parts of Sagbama, Yenogoa, Nembe, Ogbia,and Ekeremor Local Government Areas.
However, Mr Taye Oyetibo (SAN), counsel to Seriake had opposed the petition, and urged the tribunal to dismiss it.
Oyetibo said that the allegations were not backed by substantial evidence.