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Tribunal dismisses Sylva, APC suit challenging Diri’s election victory




By Peters Monday, Abuja

The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has upheld the re-election of Governor Douye Diri, dismissing the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, for lacking merit.

The tribunal, led by Justice Adekunle Adeleye, held that the petitioners failed to provide credible evidence to support their allegations and that their prayers were contradictory. The petitioners had alleged that the election was marred by irregularities and that Governor Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, were not qualified to contest the election.

The tribunal dismissed the allegation that Ewhrudjakpo tendered forged certificates, stating that it was a pre-election matter that should have been litigated before the Federal High Court. It also held that the issue of Ewhrudjakpo’s educational qualification had been previously determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The tribunal further held that the petitioners failed to discharge the burden of proof and did not tender any electoral materials to show that any irregularity occurred during the election. It also noted that some of the allegations contained elements of criminality that ought to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The tribunal upheld the preliminary objections filed by the respondents and dismissed the petition, stating that the result declared by INEC enjoys the presumption of regularity and that the petitioners failed to provide convincing and credible evidence to challenge the result.