In a significant legal development, the Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the last in a series of suits aimed at barring Timipre Sylva, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, from participating in the upcoming Bayelsa State governorship election scheduled for this Saturday.
The judgment, delivered on Friday in response to an appeal filed by Hon Isikima Ogbomade Johnson, declared the suit unjustifiable and brought in bad faith against the respondents, including Sylva. Justice Binta Zubar, presiding over the case, supported Chief James Ogwu Onoja, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in arguing that allegations of Sylva taking the oath of governorship office twice were invalidated by competent courts.
The specific appeal, marked CA/ABJ/CV/1052/2023, contested the legitimacy of the APC’s April 14, 2023, primary election, which declared Sylva as the flagbearer. The court dismissed claims that the primary election violated legal provisions and accepted Onoja’s argument, backed by evidence from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC, that all necessary legal steps were followed in conducting the primary.
Onoja SAN detailed how the APC adopted a direct primary method, with a 5-man Electoral Committee conducting the election in 106 Wards across the eight local government areas of Bayelsa. Sylva secured the top position with 52,062 votes. The court found no foundation for the appellant’s assertion that Sylva emerged without a valid primary election, emphasizing the undisputed evidence and INEC’s monitoring report.
Justice Zubar also highlighted that the appellant’s case was statute-barred, as it was filed outside the 14-day window allowed by law for pre-election matters. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo on September 26, which dismissed the suit on the grounds of merit and substance.
The origin of the legal dispute traces back to Johnson’s originating summons filed against APC, INEC, and Sylva. She sought an order disqualifying Sylva from participating in the November governorship election in Bayelsa, citing Sylva’s alleged dual election into the governorship office and the purported illegality of the April 14 primary election.
With the Court of Appeal’s decision, the legal obstacles preventing Timipre Sylva’s participation in the Bayelsa governorship election have been conclusively removed, allowing the APC candidate to contest in the upcoming polls.