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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Sylva, APC lose bid to disband Bayelsa governorship election tribunal.

The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has dismissed a fresh motion filed by the All Progressives Congress and its governorship candidate, Timipre Sylva, asking the panel to refrain from handling their petition challenging the election of Governor Douye Diri.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Adekunle Adeleye, dismissed the motion after listening to arguments from the counsel.

Tunde Falola represented Mr Sylva, Charles Edosanwan represented the Independent National Electoral Commission and Chris Uche, SAN, was for Diri.

Chukwuma Machukwu-Ume, SAN represented the deputy governor while Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, represented the People’s Democratic Party.

Counsel to the petitioners told the tribunal that his clients filed the fresh application because they were convinced beyond reasonable doubt that they could not get justice from members of the panel.

The two petitioners further stated that the tribunal had exhibited strange circumstances that made them believe that they would be denied a fair hearing.

Mr Falola therefore asked the tribunal to step aside from the petition so that a fresh panel could be constituted to hear and determine their petition.

In a brief ruling, Justice Adeleye said that the President of the Court of Appeal in a letter dated March 5 mandated the tribunal to go ahead and hear the petition irrespective of any application by the parties.

The judge said that the letter of the Appeal Court president had overtaken the request by the petitioners for the disbandment of the tribunal.

Meanwhile, the respondents, through their respective counsel, opposed the request for members of the panel to recuse themselves.

The respondents in the suit are Diri, his deputy, INEC and the PDP.

They argued that the application was an attempt to prevent the respondents from presenting their defence against the petition.

The respondents further argued that the motion by the APC and Sylva was a calculated attempt to blackmail the tribunal members to do their bidding.

The four respondents said that the petitioners closed their case even when the time allocated to them had not expired; hence, there was no basis for the allegation of denial of fair hearing.

The respondents also held that APC and Sylva were part of the pre-hearing session and both agreed to the schedule of time as agreed upon by all the parties.

Mr Adeleye adjourned the hearing until March 13 and 14 for INEC to open and close its defence.

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