Tribunal dismisses APC’s petition, affirms Diri as Bayelsa governor

Duoye Diri Duoye Diri

The Bayelsa governorship election petition tribunal has affirmed the re-election of Douye Diri as governor of the state.

A three-member tribunal led by Adekunle Adeleye, dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate Timipre Sylva, for lacking in merit.

In its unanimous decision on Monday, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to adduce any credible evidence to substantiate any of the allegations they raised against the outcome of the Bayelsa poll.

The tribunal struck out all the additional evidence as well as statements on oath of some of the petitioners’ witnesses for being incompetent.


The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to file their additional proof of evidence within the 21 days allowed by law.

The tribunal held that the decision by Sylva and his party to file their additional proof of evidence and statement on oath of witnesses, long after they had filed the petition, was “tantamount to a surreptitious attempt to amend the case of the petitioners”.



The tribunal dismissed the allegation that Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Bayelsa deputy governor, tendered a forged university degree and NYSC exemption certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It held that the allegation was a pre-election matter that ought to be litigated before the federal high court.

The court held that the matter had become statute barred since the petitioners failed to challenge the genuineness of the certificates 14 days after it was submitted to INEC.

The tribunal also noted that the issue of Ewhrudjakpo’s educational qualification has been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.


The tribunal said it took judicial notice of the fact that Ewhrudjakpo is a legal practitioner and was qualified to contest the election.


The tribunal also ruled that the petitioners sought contradictory reliefs by asking the court to declare them winners of the poll while also asking the court to nullify the same election.

It held that Sylva and APC did not tender any electoral material to show that the poll was marred by irregularities.


It held that the petitioners were unable to discharge the burden of proof that was placed on them by law.

The tribunal held that it found no reason to set aside the results of the election announced by INEC.


“The result declared by INEC enjoys presumption of regularity and a party desirous to challenge the result must do so with convincing and credible evidence,” the tribunal ruled.

“None presentation of BVAS machines and voters register used for accreditation in the election proved fatal to the case of the petitioners.


“I hold that the onus of proof of positive assertion that valid election took place in the disputed 184 polling units in 57 wards, rests on the petitioners.

“I also hold that the margin of lead principle is not applicable in this case as the petitioners made contradictory prayers.


“The petitioners, having failed to establish all the pleaded facts, I hold that this petition failed on all the three grounds that it was predicated on.

“I hereby dismiss the petition as lacking in merit. Parties are to bear their respective costs.”


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

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

Diri was elected for a second term in office.

Not satisfied with the outcome of the election, Sylva and his party filed a petition before the tribunal, alleging that 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.

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.

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