The Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the election of Seriake Dickson as duly elected governor of Bayelsa state
The court said it will give reasons for the judgment on November 18.
After hearing the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of All Progressive Congress, Timipre Sylva, asking the court to set aside the judgments of the Bayelsa State Election Tribunal and that of Court of Appeal, the seven-man panel of the Apex court led by Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.
In the unanimous decision, Justice Tanko who read the lead verdict held that, “This appeal lacks merit and it should be dismissed. I hereby dismissed the appeal and affirm the judgment of the court below.
“I shall give my reasons on Friday, November 18. Parties are to bear their cost”, Justice Tanko held.
Nevertheless, the court, in two other judgments by Justices Kudirat Ekekere-Ekun and Olukayode Ariwola, dismissed cross-appeal of Dickson and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, filed against Sylva and the APC, though they also reserved their reasons for dismissing g the appeal.
It will be recalled that Sylva and the APC had in the dismissed appeal, urged the apex court to set aside the September 22 verdict of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which validated the election that brought Dickson to office for a second tenure.
The appellants, through their lawyer, Sebastine Hon (SAN), raised 27 grounds they prayed the Supreme Court to consider with a view to determining whether Dickson of the PDP was validly elected or not.
They contended that the appellate court panel headed by Justice Rotimi Olukayode Bada, misdirected itself in law when it dismissed appeal challenging the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to declare Dickson as winner of both the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016, supplementary election in Bayelsa State.
The appellants argued that the unanimous decision of the five-man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal to uphold the July 26 judgement of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, occasioned a great injustice on them.
APC told the apex court that the appellate court failed to properly evaluate the weight of documentary evidence it adduced against Dickson, even as it dismissed same as hearsay evidence. At the appellate court, APC and Sylva who is a former governor of the state, had argued that the tribunal erred in law when it held that the reasons INEC gave on why it cancelled election result in some parts of the state was within the provision of section 26(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010. They insisted that Section 26(1) of the Electoral Act made no provision for “cancellation” of election, but “postponement” of election. According to the appellants,
“The phrase ‘other emergencies’ under section 26(1) of the Electoral Act is limited to the action of INEC ‘postponing’ an election and not ‘cancelling’ one that had already taken place”. They further argued that the tribunal Judges, “misdirected themselves in law when they held that the appellants failed to prove and or tender any documents showing that election results had been uploaded on the database of INEC before the cancellation of the election and that such failure not only meant abandonment of pleading, but withholding of evidence, which if tendered, would be fatal to the appellants”.