By Abiodun OBA
A member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Demesuoyefa Kolomo has won the lawsuit instituted against Chief Timipre Sylva.
This is as Justice Donatus Okorowo of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has disqualified Sylva the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from contesting the November 11, 2023, governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The court held in a judgement delivered Monday evening, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023, filed on June 13, 2023, by Kolomo, that Sylva, having been sworn in twice and ruled for five years as Governor of the State, would breach the 1999 Constitution as amended if allowed to contest again.
The Judge also declared that Sylva was not qualified to run in the November poll because if he wins and is sworn in, he would spend more than eight years in office as Governor.
Citing a Supreme Court judgement in the case of Marwa vs Nyako, Okorowo noted that the drafters of the country’s Constitution stated that nobody should be voted for as Governor more than two times and that the parties to the suit agreed that Sylva was voted into office two times.
He further stated that the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Marwa vs Nyako that nobody can expand the Constitution or its scope, stressing that if Sylva was allowed to contest the next election, a person could compete as many times as he wanted.
Chief Kolomo had, in his suit, prayed the court to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delete Sylva’s name from the list of candidates contesting the Bayelsa November 11 governorship election.
Kolomo had asked the court to determine whether Sylva is qualified to contest in the election, having occupied the office of governor of Bayelsa May 29, 2007, to April 15, 2008, and May 27, 2008, to Jan. 27, 2012.
The plaintiff said he was motivated by the need to vindicate Sections 180 (2)(a) and 182(1)b) of the1999 Constitution, the rule of law and to know the applicability of the same as it relates to Sylva based on the above facts.
He also averred that the question raised by the instant suit was a constitutional one and of grave importance to him as a voter and other voters in the state so that they would not vote for someone who was not qualified to contest in the poll and had their votes wasted at the end of the day.
But Sylva, who was the immediate-past Minister of Petroleum, in a counter affidavit, asked the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.
The ex-minister said that he was never elected as the state’s governor on two occasions and argued that the Court of Appeal in its judgement held that the election that brought him as Bayelsa governor in 2007 was null and void, while directing INEC to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.