The Federal High Court in Abuja has scheduled September 28 as the day when a decision will be reached in a suit seeking an order for INEC to strike out Timipre Sylva‘s name from the list of candidates running in the Bayelsa November 11 governorship poll.
The plaintiff in the case is Chief Demesuoyefa Kolomo, who is affiliated with the All Progressives Congress (APC).
After hearing the arguments and presentations of Prof. Abiodun Amuda-Kannike, SAN, counsel for Kolomo, and Babayemi Olaniyan, the lawyer representing Sylva, as well as Dr Denis Otiotio, representing the APC, Justice Donatus Okorowo set the date for the judgment.
According to NAN, Kolomo, who is affiliated with the APC, has filed a suit requesting the court to order INEC to remove Sylva’s name from the list of candidates competing in the governorship poll scheduled for November 11.
In the originating summons, dated June 13 and marked as FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023, Kolomo instituted legal proceedings against Sylva, the former Minister of State for Petroleum; the APC; and INEC, naming them as the first, second, and third defendants, respectively.
Kolomo sought the court’s determination on whether Sylva is eligible to participate in the election, considering his prior tenures as the governor of Bayelsa from May 29, 2007, to April 15, 2008, and May 27, 2008, to January 27, 2012.
The affidavit submitted by Kolomo includes his affirmation that, apart from being a member of the APC, he is also a registered voter in the state.
Kolomo mentioned that INEC had recently released the list of governorship candidates for the state, which included Sylva’s name.
Kolomo cited his motivation for pursuing the case as the need to vindicate Sections 180(2)(a) and 182(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, ensure respect for the rule of law, and determine the relevance of these constitutional provisions to Sylva considering the facts presented.
In his submission, Kolomo highlighted that the issue raised in the lawsuit had constitutional implications and carried substantial importance to him and fellow voters in the state. He emphasized the importance of ensuring that voters do not waste their votes by unknowingly supporting a candidate who does not meet the qualifications to contest in the election.
However, Sylva submitted a counter affidavit, presenting his argument for the suit’s dismissal due to its lack of merit.
Sylva, represented by his lawyer, Olaniyan, asserted that he was never elected as the governor of the state on two occasions.
He stated that according to the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the election that led to Sylva’s assumption of office as the governor of Bayelsa in 2007 was deemed null and void. Consequently, the court directed INEC to organize a fresh election within a span of 90 days.
The lawyer conceded that Sylva had held the position of governor of Bayelsa but emphasised that he had been elected to the position on only one occasion.
He sought the court’s dismissal of the suit.
In agreement with Olaniyan’s assertions, Otiotio, representing the APC, urged the court to dismiss the suit and require the plaintiff to bear substantial costs.
Otiotio, in the course of the preliminary objection, asserted that Kolomo did not possess the legal standing (locus standi) to bring forth the suit since he did not contest in the primary election that produced Sylva as a candidate.
Amuda-Kannike, in his presentation, refuted the opposing counsel’s assertion by stating that Kolomo had legal standing (locus) to file the suit under the law, regardless of whether it was categorized as a pre-election matter or not.
He maintained that the sections and cases referenced by the defense were not connected to the matter being addressed in the present suit.
He countered their argument by stating that the suit was not statute-barred, highlighting the significance of the final day on which the list of candidates was published as an important aspect of their case.
The senior lawyer requested the court to support their case and reject the defense’s preliminary objection.
Additionally, it was mentioned that Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a different matter filed by an APC aspirant in the primary election, has determined September 22 as the date for the delivery of a judgment.