The election of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State was on Thursday upheld by the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which said he was validly elected and lawfully declared winner in the last election.
Having resolved all the five issues raised by the appellants in favour of the respondents, the court dismissed the petition in its entirety for lacking in merit.
The Appeal Court in a unanimous decision of a five-man panel led by Justice Jinmi Bada, resolved all the five issues raised by Timipre Sylva and the All Progressives Congress against the election in favour of Dickson and the Peoples Democratic Party.
The judge held that Sylva and his party failed to prove the allegations of corruption, non-compliance and gross violation of the Electoral Act and other malpractices in the conduct of the election.
According to him, the foundation upon which the appellants based their case that the December 5, 2015 election was unilaterally cancelled by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner was baseless and unfounded because of the overwhelming evidence that the poll was cancelled based on irregularities.
The Appellate Court held that from the available evidence, the December 5 poll was shifted to January 9, 2016 by the Independent National Electoral Commission and political leaders after a stakeholders’ meeting attended by necessary parties.
Justice Bada also held that the claim of Sylva and the APC that the rescheduled January 9, 2016 election was unlawful, was eroded because both Sylva and the APC participated actively in the rescheduled election.
He further held that the burden of proof that the election of December 5, 2015 was unilaterally cancelled rested on the appellants who would lose their claim if no adequate evidence was not placed before the court to prove the allegation.
The judge said, “The contention of the appellants that there was election on December 6, 2015 has no merit. They were expected to lead evidence to prove their claim that there was election on that day.
“They failed to proof that the election conducted on January 9, 2016 at the Southern Ijaw 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 judgment of the lower tribunal that the allegation of malpractices were not proved because its decision was based on the evidence placed before it”.
He said the tribunal was right in reaching its conclusion.
Fielding questions from journalists shortly after the judgment was delivered, counsel to Sylva and APC. Daniel Nwoko, said the judgment of the Appeal Court would be tested at the Supreme Court because there were aspects of the judgment that needed clarification at the Apex Court.
But counsel to Dickson, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), lauded the judgment and praised the judges for the industry put in it.