The All Progressives Congress Gubernatorial Campaign Council in Bayelsa State has responded to Monday’s decision by a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Donatus Okorowo, which barred the APC candidate, Timipre Sylva, from the state’s November 11 elections.
The council, in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Director of Media and Publicity, Perry Tukuwei, guaranteed the people of Bayelsa a landslide victory at the polls.
Okorowo rendered the decision in a suit dated FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023, brought on June 13, 2023, by Deme Kolomo, an APC member.
He determined that Sylva, who had been sworn in twice and reigned as governor of Bayelsa for five years, would violate the 1999 constitution as amended if allowed to run again.
The judge also ruled that Sylva was ineligible to run in the November election because, if elected, he would serve as governor of the state for more than eight years.
Okorowo cited the Supreme Court case of Marwa versus Nyako, noting that the drafters of the country’s constitution stipulated that no governor should be elected more than twice and that the parties to the matter agreed that Sylva was elected twice.
He went on to say that the Supreme Court declared in the case of Marwa versus Nyako that no one may enlarge or limit the scope of the constitution. So, if Sylva is permitted to run in the next election, that means he can run as many times as he wants.
The ruling was termed by the APC campaign council as “an already failed bid to dash Bayelsans’ hopes of having their preferred candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, as the next helmsman at Creek Haven by February 14, 2024.”
It vowed that the party will challenge the decision, and expressed confidence that the appellate court would overturn the ruling.
The statement read, “Sections 29 and 84 of the 2022 Electoral Act states 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 All Progressives Congress 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 requires any aggrieved party to file an or election matter within 14 days of the event, but this case was filed on June 13, 2023, while INEC published the names of the governorship candidates for Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi on May 12, 2023.” As a result, the complaint was brought outside of the constitutionally mandated 14-day period, rendering it statute barred. The party and Bayelsans are surprised that the court ignored the fact that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to suit and issued a decision in their favor.
“In addition, the Supreme Court has issued a practice directive that all pre-election matters be heard in the state where the primaries were held.” The complaint was filed in Abuja to complete their evil deed. Is this Abuja, Bayelsa?
“As a result, the Bayelsa All Progressives Congress can smell the coffee and sinister move by Governor Douye Diri to go through the back door, which is his usual practice, having realized that our governorship candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, is already coasting home to victory following unprecedented acceptance in the state’s eight local government areas.”
“The Party has briefed its lawyers to appeal the judgment and it is confident that the Court of Appeal will overturn the judgment of the Federal High Court.”