From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, said it would hear all preliminary applications together with the substantive petition, but take a decision on them at the conclusion of the hearing of the substantive petition.
Former governor of the state and the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva and his party are challenging the emergence of Seriake Dickson as governor of Bayelsa State at the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 governorship election in the state.
At the resumption of hearing yesterday , counsel to the respondents, (the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Seriake Dickson and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, drew the attention of the Tribunal to their various applications seeking to strike out some reliefs of the petitioners and certain paragraphs in their petition.
The Tribunal chairman, Justice Kazeem Alogba , while adjourning further hearing of the petition till Monday April 11, held that parties will be given the opportunity to put forward their submissions on the applications as well as the petition before the Tribunal.
According to him, “If we put everything in the basket and everybody comes in to take, nobody will be short-changed”, and added that the Tribunal will consolidate the applications, hear them and deliver ruling to safe time.
“Having perused the applications by counsel in the matter, we came to a conclusion that the tribunal will proceed to the hearing of the petition and the applications will be moved in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 18(5) of the first schedule of the Electoral Act 2010”, Justice Alogba held.
He said that ruling on the applications will be delivered at the conclusion of hearing.
The tribunal had already granted the application of Governor Dickson to inspect the election materials used to conduct the January 9, 2016 governorship election in Brass local government area.
The election in Brass, the only local government area, won by the All Progressives Congress, (APC) candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva was reportedly characterized by irregularities, while the PDP candidate in the election and incumbent Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson won the remaining 7 local government areas.
Speaking with newsmen in Abuja, Governor Dickson described the development as a step in the right direction to unravel the issues involved in the case before the tribunal.
He said the conduct of the governorship election in Brass local government area, where Chief Sylva hails from, was a charade as the exercise was marred by violence, intimidation and snatching of electoral materials in most communities of the area.
Governor Dickson, who noted that the then state PDP Acting Chairman, Chief Serena Dokubo-Spiff was among several other party members attacked during the election in Brass as a ploy to scare away voters, claimed that, PDP actually won the election in the area.
Buttressing his claim, the Governor cited the outright rejection of the APC and its Governorship candidate by some communities in Brass such as Odioma and Egwe-ama during the electioneering campaigns.
Meanwhile, the tribunal will on April 11, 2016 deliver its ruling on an application for inspection of election materials brought by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Timipre Sylva.