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Bayelsa gov’ship: APC, Sylva demands disbandment of election tribunal panel

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, have demanded the disbandment of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition…

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, have demanded the disbandment of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal panel.

They accused the tribunal headed by Justice Adekunle Adeleye of undue bias against them in the conduct of proceedings, findings, and decisions and demanded its outright disbandment and reconstitution.

In a petition to the President of the Court of Appeal dated March 4, APC and Sylva accused the tribunal of denying them their constitutional right to a fair hearing as required by law by giving them only seven days to call their witnesses.

Among others, APC and its governorship candidate claimed that they had lined up 234 witnesses to establish their petition against the declaration of Governor Douye Diri as the winner of the November 11, 2023, election.

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The petition signed by Sylvester Emenike Elema (SAN) disclosed that APC and Sylva agreed to call 25 witnesses daily and lamented that the tribunal allowed them to call only eight witnesses per day.

In the face of the impossible tasks allegedly imposed on them, APC and Sylva complained that they had no option but to hurriedly close their case on February 27 after calling only 49 out of their 234 witnesses.

In a separate letter they brought to the tribunal through their counsel, Mr. R. O. Balogun, APC, and Sylva demanded that the tribunal adjourn proceedings in the matter indefinitely pending the time the Court of Appeal president will come out with a decision on the petition.

Besides, APC and Sylva alleged that in the records of proceedings they obtained, the tribunal made several comments and observations in writing, which pointed to the fact that it had made up its mind to go the way of the respondents.

The tribunal chairman, Justice Adekunle Adeleye, informed lawyers about the petition, which is questioning the panel members’ neutrality and integrity and seeking indefinite adjournment in the hearing of the case.

Justice Adeleye said that he did not know where the tribunal members had gone wrong, as alleged by APC and Sylva, and called for reactions.

Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Charles Edosomwan (SAN), said both APC and Sylva were not fair to the tribunal in their allegations of bias and distortion of facts.

Similar views were expressed by counsel to Governor Diri, Chris Uche (SAN), the deputy governor’s counsel, Chukwuma Machukwu Ume (SAN), and counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tayo Oyetibo (SAN).

In a ruling, Justice Adeleye adjourned the matter indefinitely to await the decision of the President of the Court of Appeal on the allegations of bias and denial of a fair hearing made by the petitioners.

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