Tribunal Confirms Diri’s Re-Election, Rejects Sylva’s Petition

Tribunal Confirms Diri’s Re-Election, Rejects Sylva’s Petition

by Joseph Anthony

The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has confirmed the re-election of Governor Douye Diri.

A three-member panel led by Justice Adekunle Adeleye dismissed the petition from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Timipre Sylva.

In a unanimous decision, the tribunal determined that the petitioners failed to provide credible evidence to support any of their allegations regarding the Bayelsa state governorship election results.

The tribunal declared all additional evidence and witness statements presented by the petitioners as incompetent.

According to the tribunal, the law mandates that an election petition must be filed within 21 days after the election results are announced, accompanied by written statements from all intended witnesses.

The tribunal found that Sylva and his party’s decision to submit additional evidence and witness statements after filing the petition was an improper attempt to amend their case.

Furthermore, the tribunal dismissed the claim that Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged University Degree and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Exemption Certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to qualify for the election.

It ruled that this allegation was a pre-election matter that should have been addressed in the Federal High Court and noted that the issue was statute-barred since the petitioners did not challenge the certificates’ authenticity within 14 days of their submission to INEC.

Additionally, the tribunal noted that Ewhrudjakpo’s educational qualifications had already been upheld by a competent court. It acknowledged Ewhrudjakpo as a legal practitioner and confirmed he was fully qualified to contest the election.

The tribunal also highlighted the contradictory nature of Sylva and his party’s requests: they sought both a declaration of their victory and the invalidation of the election.

The tribunal emphasized that the petitioners did not present any electoral materials to prove irregularities during the election. They failed to meet the legal burden of proof, unable to specify how the alleged non-compliance affected the election’s outcome on a polling unit basis.

Justice Adeleye, who delivered the lead judgment, pointed out that some allegations in the petition involved criminal elements requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

The tribunal upheld the respondents’ preliminary objections, challenging the competence of the election petition.

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