The judicial action instituted by Governor Timipire Sylva to retrieve a ticket he once held is drawing to a close. Given the level of high level intrigues that outmaneuvered the Governor, could there be a silver lining in stock for him?
These are undeniably edgy days for Governor Timipire Sylva of Bayelsa State and his associates. A Governor that could well have been sitting comfortably on a winning wagon is today hanging perniciously for political survival.
Last Monday the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja further stretched the nerves of the Sylva camp with its decision to reserve judgment on the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP against the ruling of a Federal High Court that had earlier given a breather to the Sylva camp.
The decision puts both Governor Sylva and his traducers in the local chapter of the party and also at the national level on a waiting game to determine the legitimacy of the PDP’s nomination of Rep. Serikae Dickson as the party’s gubernatorial candidate ahead of the rescheduled February election.
Besides the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the Bayelsa political combatants are also in anxiety over another pending judgment from the Supreme Court on the tenure extension case involving five Governors and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The Supreme Court after hearing from parties to the case and learned friends of the court had equally reserved judgment on the case.
The developments in Bayelsa follow the determined efforts of opponents of the Governor to bar him from a second term in office.
That the opponents of the Governor comprised mostly of associates of President Goodluck Jonathan who is an indigene of the state lent credence to speculations that the hands of the President were deeply involved in the issue.
Remarkably, till now the presidency has not openly tilted towards any of the two camps in the divide between Governor Sylva and his opponents.
Given the silence of the presidency on the issue it is as such remarkable that all sides in the dispute are now waiting on the courts on the way to go.
Just days after the PDP barred the Governor from participating in the November primaries the Governor won a judicial victory when an Abuja high court ordered the party to suspend the gubernatorial primary election it conducted in Bayelsa state on November 16, pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice that was entered before it by the incumbent governor of the state.
In giving the ex-parte injunction, Justice Gabriel Kolawole specifically warned that, “in the event, perhaps, unlikely that the 2nd defendant (PDP) in defiance of these orders, take steps which may be prejudicial, perhaps subversive of these orders and of these proceedings before the return day which I have fixed at 22/11/2011.
“This court will without much ado, proceed to making such necessary orders to nullify such steps or decisions taken once they are served with the processes and/or orders made herein in order to uphold and protect the sanctity of the court’s processes and to vindicate the integrity of the court as the established constitutional arbiter between the state and the citizens and between the citizens inter se.”
The PDP, however, feigned ignorance of the order and for some days even though the order was pasted on its premises refused to acknowledge it until it was convenient for the party to contest it.
Governor Sylva’s case is built on the assumption that having won the earlier primaries conducted in January before the postponement of the election that there was no sufficient ground to have disqualified him in the subsequent primaries that took place last November.
After stonewalling for some time the party eventually took its case to the Court of Appeal, a move that inevitably compelled Justice Kolawole to on November 22 stay proceedings on the original prayers sought by the Governor.
When the case resumed last Monday at the Court of Appeal the PDP counsel in a bid to justify the party’s position submitted that Governor Sylva breached the party’s constitution which requires members having dispute with the party to seek internal mechanisms of resolving the issue.
But given the array of opponents and insinuations on the personalities pitched against the Governor, some were to ask, “to whom should the Governor take his case?”
The PDP’s counsel, Chief Olusola Oke also cited section 87 of the Electoral Act which bars the courts from interfering or stopping the conduct of a party primary.
Pleading that it was not given the opportunity to respond to the issues brought before Justice Kolawole, the party as such pleaded with the Court of Appeal to discharge the injunction given by the lower courts that would have otherwise forced its hands to welcome Sylva.
Governor Sylva who is represented by Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN on his part argued that the High Cout was sufficiently fit to hear and give the order it gave. Chief Fagbemi cited section 6(6), 251 and 252 of the 1999 constitution relating to the powers of the courts.
He also drew the attention of the court to what some have interpreted as the apparent determination of the PDP to dilly-dally on the case in a way to frustrate his client.
The Governor’s political advisers are convinced that irrespective of the delay that the Governor could be returned to power in the same way Mr. Rotimi Amaechi was returned as Governor of Rivers State if he is recognized as the authentic holder of the PDP gubernatorial ticket.
After listening to all the parties the 5-man panel of justices presided by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, reserved judgment on the case indefinitely, saying the date would be communicated to all the parties.
With all sides to the dispute now waiting anxiously for the judgment the people of Bayelsa are as such at the cross roads on the way to go. Even more is the Governor Sylva whose hope for a silver-lining is now tied to the pronunciations of the courts.