Tribunal upholds re-election of Douye Diri as Bayelsa state governor

A three-member panel of the election petition tribunal on Monday in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) upheld the re-election of Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, as it dismissed a petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship candidate in the November 11, 2024 Governorship election in the state, Timipre Sylva

Penpushing reports that the panel led by Justice Adekunle Adeleye, declared that the petition filed against the victory of Governor Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its Governorship candidate lacked merit.

The tribunal in its unanimous verdict, pointed out that Sylva and the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to lead any credible evidence to prove allegations of electoral fraud during the Bayelsa State Governorship election.

Lush Arena

Penpushing further reports that after evaluating petitioners’ evidence, the tribunal dismissed the statement on oath of some of Sylva’s witnesses, and making reference to some of provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, the tribunal said an election petition must be instituted not later than 21 days after the results of an election was declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The tribunal in the same vein, emphasized that a petition must be filed alongside written statements of all the potential witnesses in the suit, hence, it faulted Sylva’s late filing of additional proof of evidence and witnesses’ statement on oath.

Penpushing also reports that the tribunal posited that it amounted to a surreptitious attempt to amend the case of the petitioners, and while deciding on the issue of non-qualification of the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, to stand in the election, the tribunal said the issue of certificate forgery against  Ewhrudjakpo was a pre-election matter that ought to have been filed at the Federal High Court, and therefore dismissed the allegation that the deputy governor forged his university certificate.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Candidate had earlier accused Ewhrudjakpo forging his university degree certificate and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate, which were submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to support his candidature.

Penpushing reports that the tribunal, however, recalled that the issue of Ewhrudjakpo’s educational qualification had been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, and in its decision noted the contradiction in Sylva’s case when he urged the tribunal to declare him winner of the poll while asking it to also invalidate the election.

The three-member panel of the election petition tribunal stated that Sylva and All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to substantiate their claim of electoral malpractices, and how they affected the outcome of poll.

Penpushing further reports that the tribunal held that the petitioners were unable to discharge the burden of proof that was placed on them by the law, stressing that they failed to show, polling units by polling units, the particulars of the non-compliance they alleged and how it substantially affected the outcome of the election.

The Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) it is recalled, won the November 2023 governorship poll to secure a second term, having scored a total of 175,196 votes to beat Sylva who recorded 110,108 votes.

Penpushing also reports that it is recalled that Sylva had resigned his position as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to contest the election under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).

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