APC, Sylva Seek Disbandment Of Bayelsa Election Tribunal


The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in the 11 November 2023 Bayelsa governorship election, Timipre Sylva, are seeking the disbandment of the state’s election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja over alleged bias.

The APC and Mr Sylva, on Monday, alleged that the tribunal, headed by Justice Adekunle Adeleye, was biased in the conduct of proceedings, findings and decisions. They, therefore, demanded its outright disbandment and reconstitution.

In a petition to the President of the Court of Appeal, the party and its candidate accused the tribunal of denying them their constitutional right to a fair hearing as required by law.

They claimed that they had lined up 234 witnesses to establish their petition against the declaration of Governor Douye Diri as the winner of the poll

In the petition dated 4 March and signed by a senior lawyer, Sylvester Elema, they alleged that the tribunal turned the table against them with an order that the 234 witnesses must be called within seven days only.

The lawyer said though they had agreed to call 25 witnesses daily, the tribunal allowed them to call only eight witnesses per day.

He said it was against this backdrop that they had no option but to hurriedly close their case on 27 February after calling only 49 out of their 234 witnesses.

Mr Elema submitted that the action of the tribunal was a clear breach of the rights of the petitioners to a fair hearing by preventing them from calling all their witnesses when the panel still had three months to sit.

He also alleged that in the records of proceedings they obtained, the tribunal made several comments and observations in writing which pointed to the facts that the tribunal had made up its mind to go the way of the respondents

He claimed that the tribunal distorted the oral testimony of their witnesses in the record of proceedings and had also made findings and decisions in respect of the authenticity and weight of polling unit election results they tendered.

The tribunal was accused of coming to the wrong conclusions in its findings that “the pattern of writing witness statements on oath employed by the petitioners was same and done by same person.”

He also accused the tribunal of being grossly unfair to them in its written comments that “comparisons done on two exhibits showed the same lettering.”

The senior lawyer, therefore, demanded for immediate dissolution of the tribunal and reconstitution of a new one that would conduct unbiased proceedings in the remaining three-month life span of the petition.

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