A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled against the eligibility of Chief Timipre Sylva, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the November 11, 2023 governorship election. This decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Deme Kolomo, a party member, under the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023 on June 13, 2023. Kolomo contested Sylva’s qualification for the upcoming election, citing Sylva’s prior two terms as governor, totaling five years in office,Daily Trust reports.
Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court in Abuja delivered the judgment on Monday, disqualifying Sylva. The judge asserted that allowing Sylva to run for governor again would violate the 1999 constitution as amended due to his two previous terms as governor.
However, Perry Tukuwei, the spokesperson for the APC campaign, reassured the people of the state and the party’s supporters, expressing confidence in their candidate’s victory in the governorship election. Tukuwei argued that Sections 29 and 84 of the 2022 Electoral Act stipulate that only individuals who participated in a political party’s primaries and have the legal standing to challenge the party’s candidate’s qualifications in an election.
He highlighted that Chief Demesuoyefa Kolomo, who filed the lawsuit, is not a member of the APC and did not partake in the party’s governorship primaries, thus lacking the legal standing to sue.
Tukuwei further noted that Section 285 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution requires that election-related matters be filed within 14 days of the event, while the case was filed on June 13, 2023, one day after INEC published the names of the governorship candidates for Bayelsa, IMO, and Kogi on May 12, 2023. Consequently, he argued that the case was filed beyond the constitutional 14-day limit, rendering it statute-barred. Tukuwei expressed surprise that the court ignored these legal factors and ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
Additionally, he pointed out that there is a Supreme Court practice directive that mandates all pre-election matters to be heard in the state where the primaries occurred, while this case was filed in Abuja, not Bayelsa.
Tukuwei concluded by suggesting that this legal action is part of a covert strategy by the PDP and Governor Douye Diri to undermine Chief Timipre Sylva’s growing popularity and potential victory in the eight local government areas of Bayelsa State. He assured supporters that the party has already instructed its lawyers to appeal the Federal High Court’s decision and expressed confidence that the Court of Appeal will overturn the judgment.
In conclusion, he urged the people of Bayelsa not to be discouraged by these developments and to remain resolute in their determination to elect Chief Timipre Sylva as the next Governor of Bayelsa State.