Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected a lawsuit aimed at disqualifying former Petroleum Resources Minister, Timipire Sylva, from competing in the upcoming November governorship election in Bayelsa State. The lawsuit, which was filed against the All Progressive Congress (APC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Sylva, has been dismissed due to a lack of merit.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Ekwo stated that the plaintiff, Hon Isikima Ogbomade Johnson, failed to substantiate the claims made in the suit, which sought Sylva’s disqualification from the governorship race. The judge emphasized that the plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence to support the allegation that the APC had not conducted a legitimate primary election that resulted in Sylva’s nomination.
Furthermore, Ekwo pointed out that the independent report from INEC, which went uncontested, clearly demonstrated that a valid primary election had been conducted by the APC and had been monitored by the electoral body as required by law. The judge dismissed police reports presented by the plaintiff, which claimed that the APC had not held a primary election, deeming them as valueless and the result of illegitimate actions by the police, as they were not authorized by law to carry out such activities in favour of the plaintiff.
Judge Ekwo also criticized the police reports for lacking official letterhead and stated that the role of the police during primary elections is to ensure the safety and security of election materials and voters. Additionally, the court rejected the suit because it had not been filed within 14 days of the alleged incident, making it an academic matter. The judge emphasized that the court should not engage in academic matters.
In conclusion, Justice Ekwo found the plaintiff’s case to be weak and unproven, as it did not meet the legal requirement for a preponderance of evidence. The judge ultimately ordered the dismissal of the case, declaring it lacking in merit.
The plaintiff had initiated the case through an originating summons against the APC, INEC, and Sylva, seeking Sylva’s disqualification based on two main grounds: Sylva’s previous two terms in the governorship office and the alleged illegality of the April 14 primary election that led to Sylva’s nomination, claiming that it violated APC’s guidelines.
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