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Bayelsa guber: Sylva, APC close case against Diri after calling 52 witnesses

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate in the Bayelsa state governorship election, Timipre Sylva, have closed their case challenging the victory of Douye Diri in the poll.

Sylva and APC called 52 witnesses to substantiate their claims made in the petition against the Diri.

On November 13, 2023, Diri, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared the winner of the off-cycle election held in Bayelsa after he scored 175,196 votes to defeat the APC and other candidates.

Sylva, a former minister of state for petroleum resources, polled 110,108 votes.

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Diri was reelected for his second term in office.

But Sylva and his party filed a petition before the tribunal alleging that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wrongly excluded election results from three LGAs –Southern Ijaw, Ogbia and Nembe.

Sylva submitted that contrary to INEC’s position that the election did not hold in the affected LGAs, APC agents supervised the poll and sent results from the various polling units to the collation centre.

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He described the three LGAs as his strongholds, arguing that results from the areas would have given him victory in the election if they were added.

The APC candidate further alleged that the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) machines were bypassed in some polling units.

He was present at the court session on Tuesday,  

To support its claim that the election was not held in the three LGAs, INEC during the proceedings, tendered 42 different voter registers from various polling units in Nembe, Ogbia and Southern Ijaw.

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The registers were admitted as exhibits by the tribunal.

Under cross-examination by Charles Edosanwan, counsel to INEC, Denis Otiotio, petitioners’ witness, admitted that no name on the register was ticked for election purposes.

However, he insisted that the voter registers that were shown to him by INEC were not the ones used for the conduct of the governorship poll.

The witness did not tender any other voter register to counter the INEC.

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He said the electoral commission has refused to comply with the order of the court to furnish the petitioners with the said voter registers.

Earlier, Akeem Alausa, a former police commissioner in Bayelsa, gave evidence for the petitioners.

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During cross-examination by INEC’s lawyer, the witness admitted that his role during the election was seen as controversial.

He said several protests were held for and against his further stay as police chief in the state. He said John Aliu Babangida later replaced him

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The witness denied the allegation that he worked in favour of the former minister during the election.

Answering questions from PDP’s lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo, Alausa admitted that a Prado Jeep was donated to the Bayelsa state police command during his stay.

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The witness added that he went away with the vehicle upon his removal from the state.

However,  Alausa said he returned the vehicle after a directive from the inspector-general of police (IGP) who acted on a letter that was written to him by Diri.

At the end of the proceedings, Ogwu Onoja, counsel to Sylva and APC, announced the close of the petitioners’ case.

Adekunle Adeleye, chairman of the tribunal, adjourned the matter to Monday for the respondents to open their defence.

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