Bayelsa Guber: Tribunal Refuses to Stop Sitting in Sylva, APC’s Petitions

The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, yesterday, refused to stop proceedings in the petition challenging the re-election of Douye Diri as Bayelsa State Governor.

A three-member panel had dismissed a fresh application filed by the All Progressives Congress  (APC) and its governorship candidate in the November 11, 2023, governorship election in Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Adekunle Adeleye, dismissed the motion after he took arguments from Sylva’s lawyer,  Tunde Falola, and the other respondents.

While Chief Charles Edosanwan represented the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Diri was represented by Chris Uche, SAN, and the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrujakpo, was represented by Chukwuma Machukwu Ume, SAN, with  Tayo Oyetibo representing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Justice Adekeye, in a brief ruling, held that a letter from the President of the Court of Appeal on March 5, mandated the tribunal to proceed with hearing of the petition, irrespective of any application by the parties.

He therefore, said the PCA’s letter has overtaken the request by the petitioners for the disbandment of the tribunal.

Sylva’s lawyer, Falola, had argued that his clients filed the fresh application against the tribunal on the ground that the two petitioners 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 to believe that they would be denied fair hearing.

He, therefore, asked the tribunal to in the interest of justice, step aside from the petition and allow other members to be constituted by the PCA to determine their petition within the little time remaining for the expiration of hearing of the case.

Meanwhile, all the Respondents, through their respective lawyers, opposed the request for the panel members to recuse themselves.

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

They stated that the motion by APC and Sylva was a calculated attempt to blackmail the tribunal members to do their bidding.

The four respondents claimed 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 to them.

They also stated that APC and Sylva were part of the pre-hearing session and fully subscribed to the schedule of time as agreed upon by all the parties.

The tribunal has fixed March 13 and 14 for INEC, being the 1st respondent, to open and close its defence

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