Bayelsa govt, PDP dragged to court over local govt polls


Due to its inability to conduct the Local Government Council Elections as earlier scheduled, the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission (BYSIEC) and the State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party have been dragged to court.

In suit No.YHC/158/2022 dated 7th July 2022 filed on behalf of Mr Tombra Kelvin Teibowei by E.G Okele Esq. of D.D. Fiderikumo Okele & Co. Legal Practitioners against the State’s Electoral Commission-BYSIEC and Peoples Democratic Party-PDP, 1st and 2nd Defendants respectively, the claimant, Tombra Teibowei faults BYSIEC’s decision to postpone the earlier scheduled date of 14th May 2022 for the conduct of Chairman and Councillors to run the affairs of the 8 Local Government Area Councils as stipulated in its guidelines.

It could be recalled that at the height of preparations by Political Parties and candidates for the LG Executive and Legislative seats hitherto scheduled to hold on 14th May 2022, the Chairman of BYSIEC, Hon. Ball Oyarede released a notice dated 28th April 2022 for “Shifting Date of Local Government Council Elections” to the general public.

In the said notice, the Chairman noted that “The Local Government Council Elections scheduled to hold on Saturday 14th May 2022 across the 8 (eight) Local Government Areas in the state will not hold.

“However, in view of the apparent conflict between the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Commission-BYSIEC will notify the general public, particularly stakeholders of the new date for the conduct of the Local Government Council Polls.”

Months after that notice by BYSIEC and an enlarged meeting with stakeholders, political parties, Civil Society Organizations and the Media to explain its plans and beg for understanding for a new date for the Council Polls has neither been approved nor a new date communicated to political parties or the general public.

It is against this backdrop of uncertainly, and the fact that unquantifiable sums have been expended in the process to get elected as Chairman of Sagbama Local Government that Mr Tombra Kelvin Teibowei candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement APM took BYSIEC to court.

In a chat with newsmen after a court session, the APM candidate insisted that the reason given by BYSIEC for shifting the LG elections is not true as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had no scheduled programme on that 14th May 2022. He posits that the only reason the Commission could give to postpone a scheduled election is when there is a foreseeable breakdown of law and order on that scheduled date.

He claimed further that BYSEIC, which is an agent of the PDP-controlled state government took that action because, as at the expiry date and time of submission/change of names of nominated candidates by respective participating parties, the PDP, aside from APC which declined to participate in the polls, was yet to conduct Primary for its candidates to represent it, thus effectively shutting it out from participating at the polls.

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Investigations by our correspondent revealed that, whereas BYSIEC and the PDP were served notices of the case that is before Justice MA Ayemieye Presiding Judge Court 2 of the State’s High Court Judiciary Complex Yenagoa, none of the two defendants has even for once appeared before the court after more than three sessions.

The claimant is praying among other things that the postponement of the Bayelsa State LG Council Elections scheduled for 14th May 2022 is illegal, void and of no effect whatsoever. That an order directing the 1st Defendant to publish the names of the nominated candidates of political parties that have been submitted to it. An order directing the 1st Defendant to fix a new date for the conduct of the State LG Council Elections 2022 earlier fixed for 14 May 2022. An injunction stopping/barring the 1st Defendant from accepting and including candidates of the 2nd Defendant or any other political party that did not submit candidates for the local government elections before the 15th March 2022 deadline.

It would be recalled that before going to court, the APM Chairmanship candidate, alongside that of the Labour Party had on the 6th of May 2022 written to BYSIEC demanding for the “Publication of Candidates for the State Local Government Council Elections 2022 and Conduct of same on the 14th day of May 2023”.

Our correspondent gathered that it was when this request was not attended to Mr Tombra Kelvin Teibowei decided to take BYSIEC and PDP to court. Bearing the unavailability of the 1st and 2nd Defendants or their Counsels at any one of the court sessions Barr. E.G Okele remarked that he has already applied for an injunction stopping BYSEIC from conducting the said poll but that the Court is yet to acknowledge that request.

Meanwhile, at the time of filing this report, several efforts by our correspondent to see representatives of the 1st and 2nd Defendants to get their own side of the story proved abortive.

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