Bayelsa State Government Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja yesterday said it will hear preliminary applications along with the substantive petition, but will rule on the applications at the conclusion of the hearing.
When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to the respondents in the petition, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Governor Seriake Dickson and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, informed the Tribunal of their various applications seeking to strike out some reliefs of the petitioners and certain paragraphs in their petition.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, Timipre Sylva and his party, in their petition before the Tribunal, are challenging the emergence of Seriake Dickson as governor of Bayelsa State at the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 governorship election in the state.
The Tribunal chairman, Justice Kazeem Alogba, while adjourning further hearing of the petition to Monday April 11, held that parties will be given the opportunity to put forward their submissions on the applications as well as the petition before the Tribunal.
According to him, “If we put everything in the basket and everybody comes in to take, nobody will be short-changed”, and added that the Tribunal will consolidate the applications, hear them and deliver ruling to safe time.
“Having perused the applications by counsels in the matter, we came to a conclusion that the Tribunal will proceed to the hearing of the petition and the applications will be moved in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 18(5) of the first schedule of the Electoral Act 2010”, Justice Alogba held.
He said that ruling on the applications will be delivered at the conclusion of hearing.
Meanwhile, the Tribunal last week also slated April 11, 2016 to deliver ruling on Sylva’s application seeking an order to allow him inspect election materials used for the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 governorship election held in the state.
The Tribunal chairman gave the date after taking arguments from parties in the petition challenging the election of Seriake Dickson as governor of Bayelsa.
The motion on notice filed and argued by Sebastin Hon (SAN) on behalf of the petitioner, Timipre Sylva, is asking the tribunal for, “an order directing the Chairman of INEC and or the Bayelsa State Resident Electoral Commissioner to forthwith produce for inspection and or scanning and also to certify/cause to be certified, the documents named in the Schedule as ‘Exhibit A’ for the purpose of the petitioner/applicant assembling and leading further evidence which would assist them to maintain the election petition.”
Among the 37 materials sought to be inspected are the ballot papers used, thumb printed and counted as valid, the ballot papers recorded as spoilt, un-used and print out of records of accreditation as captured by the Smart Card Reader.
Others are the voter register in all the polling units and the eight Local Government Areas, INEC result sheets, security report on the election, appointed observers’ reports, video and audio reports on the election and letters of complaints of irregularities and malpractices during the election addressed to INEC.
Moving the motion, predicated on seven grounds, Sylva’s counsel, Hon prayed the Tribunal to grant the request since the electoral body, which conducted the election and is in possession of the items did not oppose the application.
Hon said in law, the facts deposed to in an affidavit and not challenged by way of counter affidavit are deemed admitted by the force of law and argued that the counter affidavit filed by Governor Dickson through his counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) was misconceived and misplaced because it did not address the issues raised in the petitioner’s motion.
However, in his opposition to the request, governor Dickson’s counsel urged the Tribunal to refuse the application for lacking in merit.
Oyetibo submitted that the prayers in Sylva’s application did not support what he wanted the Tribunal to do for him.
Dickson’s counsel claimed that the petitioner failed to give reasons why he wanted to inspect the materials used for the election, adding also that the request also violated section 104 of the Evidence Act, because the mandatory fee for certification of the materials has not been paid by the petitioner.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Kazeem Alogba fixed April 11, 2016 to deliver ruling on whether to allow the inspection of the materials or not.

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