Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has disqualified immediate past Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva from contesting the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Sylva was the governorship candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ruling on the suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023, filed on June 13, 2023 by a member of the APC, Mr. Deme Kolomo, a member of the APC, Justice Donatus Okorowo held that, Sylva haven been sworn in twice and haven government Bayelsa State for a cumulative five years was not qualified to contest the governorship of the state for a third time.
Citing the case of Marwa vs Nyako at the Supreme Court, Justice Okorowo held that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended states that nobody should be voted for as governor more than two times and that the parties to the suit agreed that Sylva was voted into office two times.
Justice Okorowo maintained that allowing Sylva to contest for the governorship with the possibility of being sworn a third time would amount to an affront on the constitution.
Meanwhile, the APC Bayelsa State chapter has reacted to the judgement and announced that the party will appeal the judgement in a higher court.
In a statement issued in Yenagoa on this Tuesday, Perry Tukuwei, the Director, Media and Publicity APC Bayelsa Gubernatorial Campaign Council said that the party has already been briefed by their legal team and that they are ready and already resolved to take the next step to the Court of Appeal.
According to the APC campaign spokesman, the man that filed the matter against the party and Mr. Sylva had no ground as the plaintiff was not a member of the party nor a participant in the APC primary election that elect Timipre Sylva as the party’s flag bearer.
The APC statement reads:
“The party has briefed its lawyers to appeal the judgement, and it is confident that the Court of Appeal will overturn the judgement of the Federal High Court.
“This reassurance is in reaction to a judgement which has the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate written all over it by a Federal High Court in Abuja in an already failed bid to dash the hopes of Bayelsa people, to have their preferred candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, as the next helmsman at Creek Haven by Feb. 14, 2024.
“Sections 29 and 84 of the 2022 Electoral Act state that only persons who contested primaries of a political party that has the locus standi to file a pre-election matter to challenge the qualification of the party’s candidate in any election hence the suit filed by one Chief Demesuoyefa Kolomo who is not a member of the APC and didn’t contest our party’s governorship primaries do not have the locus standi to sue in the matter.
“Section 285 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution enjoins any aggrieved party to file election matter within 14 days of the occurrence of the event, but this case was filed on the 13th of June 2023 whereas INEC published the names of the governorship candidates for Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi on May 12.
“Thus, the case was filed outside the constitutional prescribed 14 days, thereby making the case statute barred.
“It is surprising to the party and Bayelsa people that the court ignored the fact that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to sue and went ahead to give judgement in their favour.”
“To perfect their sinister act, the case was filed in Abuja. Is Abuja Bayelsa?
“Subsequently, the Bayelsa APC can smell the coffee and sinister move by Gov. Douye Diri to go through the back door, which is his usual practice having realised that our governorship candidate is coasting home to victory already following unrivalled acceptance across the state.
“Our dear people of Bayelsa, fear not! This clandestine strategy by the PDP should not deter the resolve to elect Sylva as the next Governor of Bayelsa, we will win.”