Bayelsa Election: Supreme Court grants Sylva lifeline

Timipreye Silva

The former governor of Bayelsa State,Timipre Sylva’s chances to seek re election as governor of the state has been revivedas the Supreme Court sitting in Abuja Monday granted him leave to seek to revalidate his nomination as the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming elections in the state.

The lifeline came in form of a ruling given by a panel of the supreme court headed by Justice Mariam AlomaMukhtar who granted him leave to file a cross appeal against the decision of the court of Appeal which held that trial judge Gabriel Kolawole went beyond himself in warning PDP not to tamper with the subject matter of the action before him.

The court held that Mr. Sylva was right to have filed his case against PDP at the Federal High Court but added that the trial judge, Mr.Kolawole went too far when he threatened to sanction PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) if they failed to appear before it within 72 hours to show cause why he should not grant Mr. Sylva all the reliefs he sought from the court.

Both Mr. Sylva and PDP are currently before the Supreme Court because they were dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

In his appeal, the former governor said that the court of appeal erred in law when it held that the pronouncement of the trial judge, asking the respondents to show cause and also warning the respondents  from taking any action which would foist upon the court a hopeless situation without hearing the respondents amounted to pre-judging the issue before him.

He argued that a court of law had the responsibility of protecting the sanctity of its proceedings. But the PDP in its own appeal said the court of appeal erred in law when it held that the federal high court had jurisdiction to hear Mr. Sylva’s case.

However, Justice ZainabBulkachuwa held that the trial judge at the Federal High Court, Mr.Kolawole, had the jurisdiction to hear Sylva’s suit because most of the relieves sought by Mr. Sylva were against the INEC and being an agent of the Federal Government, the proper court to sue it (INEC) was the Federal High Court.

Mr. Sylva also requested for accelerated hearing of the case by the two cases (appeal of PDP and his cross appeal) because of the sensitive nature of the case.

In granting the request, the apex court said:

“In view of the fact that this is a political matter and requires urgency, the application for accelerated hearing is hereby granted. The appeal and cross appeal are fixed for next Tuesday, February 7 for hearing”, Justice Mukhtar said.

Meanwhile, following the decision of the INEC to conduct elections in Bayelsa on 4th February, 2012 as a result of the supreme court judgement of Friday 27th, January 2012, Former governor of the state has disagreed with the position of INEC on the matter and says the election umpire has misinterpreted the judgement.

“It is not the place of INEC to interpret any court judgement. More importantly, Sylva disagrees completely with this interpretation of the Supreme Court judgement. He does not regard the INEC position as final,” a statement signed by his media adviser Doifie Ole said.

The former governor said the Supreme Court is better placed to resolve the matter of the proper candidate for the PDP in the Bayelsa State governorship elections.

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