The Court of Appeal, yesterday, reserved judgement in the disputed governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Before that, the court struck out the preliminary objection filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the appeal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Timipre Sylva, challenging the judgment of the state election tribunal which upheld the election of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.
The appellate court further refused the application by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to amend it’s brief by adding some words which it claimed was an omission. The Court of Appeal is sitting on the the multiple appeals arising from the judgment of the Bayelsa State Governorship election tribunal.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal has reserved judgments in the three appeals after taking submissions from counsel to parties to the appeals. Arguing the main appeal, lead counsel to the appellants, Chief Sabastine Hon (SAN), submitted that the tribunal was in great error when it dismissed the petition. The constitutional lawyer further submitted that the governorship tribunal misinterpreted section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2011, which he argued, talked aboutpostponement and not cancellation of an election.
He argued that the cancellation of the December 6, 2015 governorship election in Southern Ijaw makes any other decision taken by INEC null and void.
He added that contrary to the position of the respondents that the appellants waived their rights, by participating in the January 9, 2016 re-scheduled election, the appellants, indeed, tendered a protest letter against the cancellation and that there was no opportunity to go to court. Hon, therefore, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought by his clients, including the alternative reliefs.
In his arguments against the appeal, counsel to Governor Dickson, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) said the appellants did not supply the results of the December 6, 2015 election, but rather brought evidence showing that they participated in the January 9, 2016 election. It was his contention that an election that did not produce result is no election, citing section 27 of the Electoral Act, 2011. Oyetibo further argued that before the tribunal, the appellants did not produce evidence from polling units to prove allegations of electoral fraud and other forms of malpractices.