• News - South South - Bayelsa
  • Updated: February 27, 2024

Sylva, APC close petition against Diri after 52 witnesses

Sylva, APC close petition against Diri after 52 witnesses

The All Progressives Congress, (APC) and its candidate in the November 2023 governorship election in Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, on Tuesday, formally closed their petition challenging the declaration of Governor Douye Diri as winner of the election. 

Sylva and APC rested hearing in their petition after calling 52 witnesses to testify to substantiate their allegations against the conduct and the declaration of results in the November 11 gubernatorial poll.

Tuesday's proceeding was witnessed from the beginning to the end by Sylva.

During the proceeding, the tribunal admitted 42 different voter registers, tendered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), from various polling units of Nembe, Ogbia and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas of the state, to establish its position that election did not hold in the areas due to violence.

A star witness of the petitioners, Denis Otiotio, who was cross-examined by INEC lawyer, Charles Edosomwan, SAN, on the 42 voter registers, admitted that no single name on the voter register was ticked for election purpose.

Otiotio however insisted that the voter registers that was shown to him by the electoral body, was not the ones that were used for the conduct of the gubernatorial election.

The APC witness however did not tender any other voter registers to counter the INEC.

He said though the tribunal issued to the petitioners an order for INEC to supply them with voter registers, the Commission however did not comply with the directive.

When asked by counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP/, Chief Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, if he reported the failure of INEC to supply them with the voter registers, the witness admitted that they did not report INEC's disobedience to the tribunal.

Earlier, a former Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Akeem Tolani Alausa, testified in favour of the petitioners and tendered several exhibits to support his testimony.

During cross-examination by INEC's lawyer, the witness admitted that his role during the election was seen as controversial and that several protests were held for and against his further stay as police chief in the state. 

The CP, who is now at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, admitted that one John Aliu Babangida was eventually deployed to replace him.

According to him, he was brought back to Bayelsa as CP after the protest against him had died down.

When he was confronted by INEC's lawyer that he acted as Sylva's ally in the election, to the extent that he was branded as Sylva's CP, the witness denied the claim. 

Further cross-examined by Governor Diri's lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, on whether he came to the tribunal on subpoena, the police chief said he would not know but that he came to testify based on a letter from the Inspector General of Police IGP.

He also admitted that his witness statement on oath was prepared for him by his Officer in Charge of legal, whose name he did not mention. 

The witness further told the tribunal that the documents he tendered were from policemen that were stationed at polling units on the election day and that he was the maker of the documents.

He also admitted that although 16 political parties participated in the governorship election, he did not make any witness statement on oath for 15 other parties except APC and that his evidence was based on Nembe, Ogbia and Southern Ijaw LGAs where election results were being challenged.

Answering questions from PDP's lawyer, Oyetibo, SAN, the witness admitted that a Prado Jeep was donated to the Bayelsa State Police Command during his stay and that upon his removal from the state, he went away with the vehicle. 

He, however, said that he returned the Prado Jeep based on the directive of the IGP who acted on a letter that was written by governor Diri.

At the end of the proceedings, counsel to the petitioners, Chief Ogwu James Onoja, SAN, announced the closure of hearing in the petition.

Justice Adekunle Adeleye thereafter fixed next Monday for the INEC, governor Diri, the deputy governor, Lawrence Ewhrujakpo and the PDP to open their defence.

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