14 February 2013

Nigeria: Sylva Drags INEC to Court, Moves to Regain Seat

The former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court for what he referred to as "my mandate" as the flag bearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in last year's governorship election in the state.

Sylva is claiming that he was the rightful candidate of the party.

The former governor, in his affidavit, argued that there was no basis to hold fresh primaries by the PDP as he had earlier won the gubernatorial primaries held in January, 2011, a process which automatically made him the authentic candidate of the party for the governorship election.

In the suit which was filed before Federal High Court in Yenagoa and presided over by Justice Charles Achibong, Sylva is asking INEC for his reinstatement as the valid candidate of the PDP in the last governorship election, which returned Mr. Seriake Dickson as the governor.

According to him, the court should direct INEC to replace the name of incumbent governor with his own so as to enjoy the mandate given to him.

Recall that following the Supreme Court judgment on his tenure elongation bid, the PDP refused to allow Sylva to re-contest as the party's candidate for the January 2012 governorship election.

Meanwhile, Justice Archibong granted the applications from counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and incumbent Governor, Seriake Dickson to be joined in the case before adjourning the matter for hearing till March 18.

Justice Achibong granted the applications by Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) to represent Governor Seriake Dickson and Mr. Somina John-Bull, to represent the PDP, as interested parties in the matter while Mr. Clement Oha, appeared for INEC.

Sylva was represented by Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), who said they were seeking accelerated hearing of the case, admitting that the applications by other parties to join the suit was in order.

"We were expecting the governor and the party, the PDP, to come in to be joined as parties. So, we were not taken by surprise, the more the merrier and I believe it's better they be joined. So the court had ordered they should be joined," Clarke said.

The lawyer to the incumbent governor, Oyetibo, said the decision of the judge to honour their applications to join the suit would give Governor Dickson the opportunity to also be heard.

"It's an action by the former governor asking that he be returned into office but he did not join the sitting governor as well as the PDP. And the court has granted the application that the governor should be joined. At least, you cannot take away a governor from office without allowing him to participate in the proceedings," he said.

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