In a landmark decision that has sent shockwaves through the political landscape of Bayelsa State, the Federal High Court in Abuja has disqualified Chief Timipre Sylva, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, from contesting in the forthcoming November 11 governorship election.
The ruling, delivered by Justice Donatus Okorowo on Monday, cited constitutional violations that would arise if Sylva were allowed to run for office again.
Justice Okorowo’s judgment emphasized that Chief Sylva, who has previously been sworn in as governor of Bayelsa State twice and ruled for a total of five years, would be in direct breach of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) if permitted to contest once more.
The judge pointed out that the Constitution explicitly limits a governor’s term to two times, and allowing Sylva to participate in the upcoming election would result in a potential tenure exceeding eight years.
Referencing the precedent set in the case of Marwa Vs. Nyako at the Supreme Court, Justice Okorowo underscored the importance of adhering to the Constitution’s provisions. He noted that the drafters of the Constitution clearly stated that no individual should be eligible for election as governor more than twice.
In this case, all parties involved in the suit, including Sylva himself, acknowledged that he had been elected to the office on two previous occasions.
Justice Okorowo further invoked the Supreme Court’s ruling in Marwa Vs. Nyako, asserting that the Constitution’s limitations on the number of times a person can hold the office of governor cannot be expanded or modified.
Allowing Sylva to contest the forthcoming election, according to the judge, would set a dangerous precedent, suggesting that a person could contest an unlimited number of times.
The lawsuit, bearing case number FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023, was initially filed on June 13, 2023, by a member of the APC, Deme Kolomo. The decision has added an unexpected twist to the Bayelsa State governorship race, as political observers now await the APC’s response and a potential replacement candidate for the upcoming election.