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Bayelsa State Election tribunal upholds Diri's Victory

Bayelsa State Election tribunal upholds Diri's Victory

The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, affirmed the re-election of Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State.

The Justice Adekunle Adeleye-led three-member tribunal dismissed as lacking in merit, the petition that was brought before it by All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva.

In its unanimous decision, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to adduce any credible evidence to substantiate any of the allegations they raised against the outcome of the Bayelsa state governorship poll.
It struck out as incompetent, all the additional proof of evidence as well as statements on oath of some of the witnesses that testified for the petitioners.

According to the tribunal, the law expressly provided that an election petition must be filed not later than 21 days after the result of an election was declared.
It held that such petition must at the time it was filed, be accompanied with written statements of all the intended witnesses.

GALAXY TV reports that the tribunal held that the decision of Sylva and his party to file their additional proof of evidence and statement on oath of witnesses, long after they had filed the petition, was tantamount to a surreptitious attempt to amend the case of the petitioners.

The tribunal dismissed the allegation that the deputy governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, tendered forged University Degree Certificate and NYSC Exemption Certificate, to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in aid of his qualification to contest the election.

It held that the allegation was a pre-election matter that ought to be litigated before the Federal High Court, adding that the matter had become statute barred since the petitioners failed to challenge the genuineness of the certificates, 14 days after it was submitted to INEC.

Besides, it held that the issue of Ewhrudjakpo's educational qualification was previously determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The tribunal said it took judicial notice of the fact that the 3rd Respondent, Ewhrudjakpo, is a legal practitioner, saying it was satisfied that he was eminently qualified to contest the election.

Likewise, the tribunal noted that whereas Sylva and his party prayed it to declare that they were the valid winners of the governorship election, they equally applied for the same election to be declared invalid.
It held that prayers of the petitioners were contradictory, adding that Sylva and APC did not tender any electoral material to show that any irregularity occurred during the election.

It held that the petitioners were unable to discharge the burden of proof that was placed on them by the law, stressing that they failed to show, polling units by polling units, the particulars of the non compliance they alleged and how it substantially affected the outcome of the election.

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