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INEC Says PDP Has No Bayelsa Governorship Candidate

Source: THEWILL. -
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of the Bayelsa Governorship Election slated for February 11, 2012, in the list of eligible parties and candidates for the election made public Thursday.

The PDP and Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva are engaged in a legal tussle over the rightful candidate of the party for election after the party barred Sylva from contesting in the primary and installed Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson as its candidate.

Sylva, who is seeking re-election, has asked the court to declare him the rightful candidate of the party having won a previous primary earlier in 2011 before an Appeal Court extended the tenure of five governors in a ruling that was greeted with mixed reactions.

In a statement Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State commended INEC for toeing the path of the rule of law in the release of the list of candidates for the state’s governorship election.

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Doifie Ola, Sylva noted that “INEC has taken the right decision as an impartial umpire by acknowledging and stating clearly that the subject of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the governorship election is validly before a court of law, and that as an institution that respects the rule of law and democracy, it would not do anything to prejudice the final outcome of the matter in court.”

The statement by the CPS says Governor Sylva assures his supporters that he has a good case and believes in due process and the rule of law. As a democrat, he urges his supporters to remain calm and wait for the outcome of the case.

Recall that in the run-up to the 19 November 2011 PDP governorship primary in Bayelsa State, the governor approached the Federal High Court in Abuja following his exclusion from the primary by the PDP apparatchik.

The governor asked the court to uphold his candidature on the basis of the January 2011 primary or, on the contrary, allow him to participate in any primary that will be conducted by his party, PDP. The learned judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, consequently ordered PDP to show cause why the governor’s prayers should not be granted, and cautioned that the status quo be maintained.

But in complete disregard for the court processes, the PDP went ahead to conduct an illegal primary, and followed it up by filing an appeal at the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal has since ruled that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the governor’s suit.

According to the statement, the PDP has now filed an appeal at the Supreme Court, to which Governor Sylva has cross-appealed. The governor is arguing that the Court of Appeal erred in law when it held that some pronouncements of Justice Kolawole amounts to pre-judging the issues before him.

Governor Sylva’s argument at the Supreme Court is that he is the authentic candidate of the PDP for the February 2012 governorship election. He notes that under the amended Electoral Act, a political party has no right to withdraw the name of a candidate it has submitted to INEC; it is only the candidate, due to resignation or death, that can so do.

Sylva notes that the governorship election in Bayelsa State was postponed, and not cancelled. The postponement of the governorship poll in Bayelsa State, for the governor, could be likened to the recent postponement of the Adamawa State governorship election from 14 January to 21 January. Assuming that this election was postponed for one month or more, will the Adamawa PDP go for another primary to determine the flag-bearer in the rescheduled gubernatorial election? The answer to this, for him, is clearly, no.

The governor is asking the court to invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to determine the case at the Supreme Court. So that the matter will not go back to the lower court, and that the matter should be given expeditious hearing and treated on its own merit due to the time limitation.