Timipre Sylva and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, on January 30 challenged Dickson’s return as governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, at the tribunal. INEC had declared Dickson as winner of the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 re-run governorship election.
In his judgment, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Kazeem Alogba, held that there were no evidence to prove widespread illegality during the election. Alogba, who led two other Justices, further held that Sylva and his party failed to prove their case with credible evidence. He also held that the allegations of various criminal and electoral offences, which the petitioners stated affected the outcome of the election were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“The petition was not backed by proof of required standard and therefore lacks merit,” he said. Aloga also held that INEC was right and had the power to have cancelled the supplementary election conducted on December 6, 2015 with proved evidence of malpractices. He further held that contrary to the petitioners’ contention, the decision to cancel the December 6, 2015 poll was not unilaterally taken by the Resident Electoral Commissioner.
The tribunal chairman said evidence showed that the decision was taken by the INEC National Headquarters. “There was sufficient evidence that the earlier supplementary election scheduled to hold on December 6, 2015 was marred by widespread violence, malpractices and irregularities. “In the light of this, the petition filed against the victory of Mr. Dickson Seriake in the Bayelsa State Governorship election fails. “Seriake is therefore duly returned as governor having scored the highest votes in that election.” Sebastine Hon (SAN), counsel to Sylva, had alleged widespread malpractices against the Peoples Democratic Party in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area during the December 5 and 6, 2015 governorship election and the re-run held on January 9, 2016. Hon claimed that the Resident Electoral Commissioner erred by failing to complete the election process, which was declared inconclusive. The petitioner had alleged that the election was marred by malpractices, intimidation of voters, hijacking of electoral materials, no-voting and non-collation of results in parts of the state. Sylva argued that the impact of the illegality were substantial in parts of Sagbama, Yenogoa, Nembe, Ogbia,and Ekeremor Local Government Areas. However, Taye Oyetibo (SAN), counsel to Dickson, had opposed the petition and urged the tribunal to dismiss it.
Oyetibo said the allegations were not backed by substantial evidence.