APC aspirant prays court to stop Sylva’s gov bid in Bayelsa

An All Progressives Congress, APC, aspirant for the November 11, 2023, Bayelsa State governorship election, Mrs. Ogbomade Johnson, has dragged Mr. Timipre Sylva, former Minister of State for Petroleum,  to court, challenging his emergence as candidate of the party for the poll.

Mrs. Johnson in the suit by her team of lawyers led by Hyginus Ibega.

Trial judge in the matter is Justice Inyang Ekwo.

She is praying the court for an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to delist the names of APC and Sylva from among the list of political parties and candidates for the November 11 poll.

The aspirant is also praying the court for an order of perpetual injunction, restraining Sylva, the immediate-past Minister of State for Petroleum, from parading himself as the APC’s governorship candidate in Bayelsa.

She is also praying the court to declare that the APC was duty-bound in contract to commence and conclude primary election in Bayelsa State in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the regulations and guidelines of the political party, after having demanded and received the sum of 10 million from her, along with other five aspirants.

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Johnson is further praying the court to declare that by virtue of the conduct of the APC’s primary poll on April 14, in contravention of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, and the regulations and guidelines of the political party, the APC had no candidate to field for the poll, among other reliefs.

Recall that APC had cleared Mrs. Johnson, Sylva, Joshua Maciver, Festus Daumiebi, Mrs. Maureen Ongoebi and David Lyon as aspirants in the April 14 primaries.

All Progressives Congress, APC


In the primary election conducted in the 102 of the 105 wards of the eight local governments in the state, Sylva was said to have scored 52, 061 votes; Maciver scored 2, 078; Johnson scored 584; Daumiebi scored 557; Ongoebi scored 1, 277 and Lyon scored 1, 584 votes.

But in the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/575/2023 dated April 24 but filed April 27, Johnson sued APC, INEC and Sylva as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.

Sylva having been elected two times as gov, was qualified to participate in another gov poll

She is therefore praying the court to determine:

*Whether having regard to the meaning and intendment of the provision of Section 1(2), 180(2)(a), 182(1)(b) of 1999 Constitution (as amended),” Sylva having being elected two times as governor of Bayelsa was qualified to participate in the APC’s primary election held on April 14, making three times to be elected into the office of governor of the state.

*That on a dispassionate consideration of Article 12.8(1), Article 12.9 of the APC Constitution (as amended read together with the judgment of the High Court of Bayelsa delivered on January 20, which nullified the wards, local government areas and state congresses elections held by the 1st defendant in Bayelsa, the nomination of the 3rd defendant as the candidate of the 1st defendant is not illegal and unconstitutional,” among others.

In the affidavit Johnson deposed to, she averred that contrary to the party’s regulations and guidelines and in breach of the Electoral Act, 2022, the APC’s direct primary did not hold in all the wards in the state.

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“Shockingly on April 14, 2223, the said election committee was not seen anywhere in the voting centres and ward headquarters where accreditation and voting were supposed to commence by 8a.m., to 2p.m., in Bayelsa State.

“No accreditation of voters took place, no voting and collation of votes occurred in all the wards.

“Major General A T. Jibrin (retd), who claimed to be the Election Committee Chairman only deceived me and all the teeming supporters to our respective ward headquarter without any primary election,” she further averred.

She added after waiting till 5:30p.m., on the election day, she and her supporters staged a protest to the party’s state headquarters.

She said she was surprised on April 15, while listening to a television news to hear that Sylva was declared the winner of the poll by the Jibrin-led committee.

Johnson is praying the court to grant her the reliefs sought.

Sylva asks court to dismiss suit

But in a counter affidavit deposed to by Sylva, the ex-minister prayed the court to dismissed the suit.

He averred that contrary to Johnson’s deposition, he was pre-eminently qualified to contest for election into the Office of Governor of Bayelsa and did not suffer from any disqualifying factor which barred him from contesting.

“I contested as governor in the 2007 General Elections and I was declared the winner by the 2nd defendant and was subsequently sworn in as the executive governor of Bayelsa State on the May 29, 2007.

“After I was sworn in on May 29, 2007, my election as governor was nullified by the Court of Appeal and the 2nd defendant (INEC) was ordered to conduct a re-run election. The said re-run was duly conducted and I won it and was sworn in as governor on May 27, 2008.

“The matter went up to the Supreme Court and same was consolidated alongside that of the then Governors of Kogi, Sokoto, Cross River and Adamawa States as reported in Marwa v. Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Pt.1296).

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“The Supreme Court held that my tenure in office is to be counted from May 29, 2007, when I was first sworn in and not May 27, 2008.

“Thus, upon the judgment of the Supreme Court, I vacated office having done a single term,” he said.

He said contrary to Johnson’s argument, the primary was held and the results in which he garnered the majority of the votes was accepted and he received congratulatory messages from major APC stakeholders in the state, indicative of the fact that his victory reflected the aspirations of the party members.

He, however, said there was no election in Ward 6 in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA because the register of members was not submitted on time within INEC’s guidelines, and that election did not hold also in Wards 4 and 5 in Nembe LGA because there were disturbances.

He said though the poll was initially scheduled for April 10, due to logistics challenge, it was shifted to April 14.

He said after the poll was conducted, he said a special congress which ratified him as person who scored the highest number of votes was held on April 15 in Yenagoa and his name forwarded to INEC.

Justice Ekwo fixed July 6, for hearing of the suit.

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