In a significant legal development, the Court of Appeal in Abuja has overturned the earlier nullification of Chief Timipre Sylva’s candidacy as the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the November 11 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Justice Binta Zubairu, who delivered the judgment, declared that Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court was erroneous in ordering Sylva’s removal as the APC candidate.
The Court of Appeal’s decision, handed down by Justice Zubairu, centered on the crucial issue of jurisdiction in the matter. The appellate court ruled that the trial court had made a fundamental error by assuming jurisdiction, emphasizing that the plaintiff at the Federal High Court lacked the necessary locus standi to initiate the suit since they had not participated in the primary election that had produced Sylva as the APC’s flag bearer.
“The issue of jurisdiction is paramount in an election-related matter,” Justice Zubairu remarked during her delivery of the judgment. She added that, given the lower court’s lack of jurisdiction, all actions taken in the matter were deemed null and void.
Furthermore, the Court of Appeal emphasized that when a judgment is found to have been delivered without jurisdiction, it becomes futile, regardless of its merits. Consequently, the appellate court voided Justice Donatus Okorowo’s decision, which had initially nullified Sylva’s participation in the November 11 election.
This landmark judgment has substantial implications for the upcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State, as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is now obliged to reinstate Chief Timipre Sylva as the APC’s official candidate. In addition to this, Justice Zubairu awarded a cost of N1 million in favor of Sylva.