Appeal Court Upholds Dickson’s Election As Bayelsa Governor

THE Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Thursday held that Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State was validly elected as governor.

The court in a unanimous decision of a five-man panel presided over by Jimmi Olukayode Bada, resolved all the five issues raised by Sylva and the All Progressives Congress in favour of Dickson and the Peoples Democratic Party.

Justice Bada, who delivered the lead judgement, held that Sylva and his party failed to prove the allegations of corruption, non compliance, gross violation of the electoral act and other malpractices in the conduct of the election.

He said the foundation of the ground upon which the appellants based his case that the December 6, 2015 election was unilaterally cancelled by the State Resident Electoral Commissioner was eroded, having participated actively in the rescheduled election of January 9, 2016, adding that it was established beyond doubt that the decision is shift December 6,2015 election to January 9,2016 was taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission and stakeholders.

He said the burden of proof rests on the appellant who will lose if no adequate evidence is not placed before the court to prove his allegations on the conduct of the election that brought Dickson to power.

Bada held: “The contention of the appellant has no merit.

“They were expected to leave evidence to prove their claim that the election was marred by irregularities, electoral malpractices, allocation of votes and gross violation of electoral act.

“These allegations were not proved by the appellants.

I am in total agreement with the judgement of the lower Tribunal because its decision was based on the evidence place before it.”

Having resolved all the five issues raised by the appellants in favour of the respondents, Justice Bada dismissed the petition in its entirety for lacking in merit.

It would be recalled that Sylva and APC had challenged the election of Governor Dickson at the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on the ground that the governor was not lawfully returned through majority votes by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

But in a unanimous decision, the three-man tribunal, led by Justice Kazeem Aloba, the Tribunal held that the APC failed to prove its case.

In a marathon judgment delivered, the tribunal held that the election held in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area on January 9, 2016 was lawful and valid in law.

The tribunal further had held that from the evidence adduced before it, the election of December 6, 2015 was inconclusive and was rightfully rescheduled by INEC through the REC.

It also held that contrary to the position of the petitioner, election took place in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

Fielding questions from newsmen shortly after the judgement was delivered, counsel to Sylva, Daniel Nwoko, said the judgement of the Court of Appeal will be tested at the Supreme Court because there are aspects of the judgement that needed clarification.

The Counsel to Dickson, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), lauded the judgement and praised the Justices for the industry put into it.