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As Appeal panel submits report to PDP leadership
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA - THE national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP yesterday received the report of the Appeal Screening Committee which arbitrated alleged petitions raised against the embattled Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timipire Sylva.

Following the receipt of the panel report, members of the National Working Committee, NWC went into a marathon meeting where the report was reportedly compared with that earlier submitted by the Screening Committee. A definitive statement on the fate of the Governor and his leading challenger, Mr. Timi Alaibe, the erstwhile Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC is coming out this week Vanguard learnt.

At the NWC meeting presided over by the Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje at the party's campaign office, Legacy house, Abuja the party officials were said to have deliberated on the Appeal Panel report that reportedly raised issues with the appropriateness of Governor Sylva representing the party in the forthcoming polls.

Vanguard gathered yesterday that the Appeal panel questioned the manner the screening committee overlooked certain issues that were raised against Governor Sylva bothering on security, financial impropriety, among others.

According to a source present at the meeting, the NWC is now faced with the challenge of either ratifying or rejecting the report of the Appeal panel led by Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi, the former Governor of Ekiti State.

It will be recalled that the screening panel had in Port Harcourt screened Governor Sylva, Alaibe, Ex-Director-General, Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce, Henry Dickson, Boloubo Orufa and Francis Doukpola.

At the end of the exercise, Governor Sylva, Ben Murray-Bruce, Dickson, Boloubo Orufa were cleared; while Alaibe and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resouces, Ambassador Godknows Igali failed to scale the screening.

Following the clearance, Governor Sylva, Alaibe, Bruce were, however, summoned to face the Appeal Panel following issues that were raised before the panel that were reportedly overlooked by the Brigadier-General Idi Adamu led screening panel.

Efforts made to get the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali to comment on the outcome of the meeting proved abortive as his phone was put off.

Governor Sylva yesterday, nevertheless debunked reports that he has been screened out of the Bayelsa PDP governorship primaries by the Olujimi committee.

In a statement made available to journalists yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Doife Ola, Sylva who noted that his camp read with horror a report that he has been screened out by PDP for the 2012 Bayelsa State gubernatorial election, said, 'the report claims the Gubernatorial Screening Appeal Committee of the PDP headed by former Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi, considered Sylva ineligible to fly the party's flag 'for operating foreign accounts.

'Whatever the quality of the sources, this report is completely false. It is low quality fiction. It is a cheap lie sponsored by those who are afraid to meet Governor Sylva in the political field of contest, and their paid and unpaid agents, working collectively or severally.

'But then, we are not surprised as it follows a familiar pattern of a structured campaign of serial untruths about Governor Sylva, a fact we alerted the world about last weekend.

'For the avoidance of doubt, there is no basis whatsoever for the PDP to exclude Governor Sylva from the 2012 Bayelsa governorship race. He is the man to beat. Ownership and operation of a foreign account by a serving public officer is a criminal offence. No competent court of law has indicted Governor Sylva for operating a foreign account. He has no such charge pending anywhere in the world. God forbid!

'The PDP Gubernatorial Screening Committee for Bayelsa last Friday issued Governor Sylva a clearance certificate to participate in the party primaries slated for 19 November. That clearance certificate remains valid.

'It is true that the governor was at the national headquarters of the PDP Sunday afternoon at the instance of the Gubernatorial Screening Appeal Committee. But as Sylva himself confidently told reporters after meeting with the committee, 'the deliberations were fruitful'.

The governor however appealed to his supporters to continue to remain calm, peaceful and law-abiding, just as he expressed optimism that in the prevailing circumstance the will of the Bayelsa people shall ultimately prevail.