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Bayelsa Guber: Tribunal reserves judgment in Sylva’s petition against Diri

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By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.

The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has reserved judgment in a petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylvia against the declaration of Douye Diri as the governor of the state in the November 2023 election.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Adekunle Adeleye on Monday in Abuja announced that the judgment would be delivered within the 180 days statutorily allowed by law.

The chairman said that all the parties in the petition, would be communicated as soon as judgment delivery date is fixed.

At Monday’s proceedings, the petitioners, Sylvia and APC, adopted their final written address, praying the tribunal to annul the declaration of Diri as the winner of the election.

Their lead counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, told the tribunal that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, embarked on wrongful exclusion of results before arriving at the declaration of Diri as winner.

The petitioners’ lawyer stated that the electoral body did not debunk the allegation of wrongful exclusion of results by not calling the state election result collation officer to testify.

He therefore urged the tribunal to objectively decide the petition on the strength of the evidence adduced by the petitioners especially because INEC did not call a single witness to challenge all the allegations.

However, Diri’s counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, informed the tribunal that the petition by Sylvia died on arrival because it is grossly deficient in quantity and quality of evidence.

He said that the petition was baseless, frivolous and vexatious and grossly lacking in merit because the two petitioners did not discharge the burden placed on them by law

Among others, Uche said that Sylva predicated his petition on alleged refusal of INEC to collate results in three local governments areas- Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Ogbia but failed to call a single collation officer to back up its claim

Besides, Uche said that Sylvia did not tender voter register, BVAS machines and form EC8A used for the purported election in the three local governments to establish his allegations.

The senior lawyer also said that the petitioner himself, despite having a witness statement on oath, refused to give evidence before the tribunal to substantiate his allegations.

The senior lawyer also said that the petitioner himself, despite having a witness statement on oath, refused to give evidence before the tribunal to substantiate his allegations.

Uche pleaded with the tribunal to discountenance the evidence of a former Police Commissioner in the state on the ground that the police officer admitted before the tribunal that he had issues with Diri when the Prado Jeep earlier given to him was withdrawn.

Uche also urged the tribunal not to invoke the spirit of the judgment that brought Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, into office, adding that INEC has established beyond doubt that election did not hold in the three local governments due to resistance by some hoodlums to the use of BVAS machines.

Similarly, INEC, represented by Charles Edosomwan, SAN, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, represented by Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, canvassed for dismissal of the petition on the ground that the two petitioners failed and neglected to discharge the burden of establishing their allegations against the election beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.

They asserted that they did not call witnesses because the witnesses of petitioners killed and buried the petition while being cross examined during the proceedings.

Recall that INEC had declared Diri winner of the gubernatorial election on the ground that he scored majority of lawful votes cast in the poll.

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