Legal Challenge Emerges for APC’s Timipre Sylva as Bayelsa Gubernatorial Election Approaches
In a surprising twist leading up to the November 11 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Timipre Sylva, finds himself entangled in a legal battle. The Incorporated Trustees of the Trustfield Empowerment Initiative has filed a suit against Sylva and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Federal High Court in Abuja, raising questions about the eligibility of Sylva’s running mate, Joshua Maciver.
The lawsuit contends that Maciver’s jail sentence for a criminal offense is still in effect, thus casting doubt on Sylva’s choice of a valid running mate for the upcoming election. The plaintiff argues that INEC erred in allowing Maciver, who is under a sentence of imprisonment, to become a running mate, thereby violating constitutional provisions.
The core of the legal challenge rests on Sections 175(1), 182(1)(d) & (2)(c), and 187(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which explicitly stipulate that an individual convicted of a criminal offense and serving a sentence of imprisonment without a Presidential Pardon is ineligible to be recognized or listed by INEC. The plaintiff contends that Maciver falls within this category, rendering his recognition by INEC as Sylva’s running mate illegal and unconstitutional.
The Trustfield Empowerment Initiative asserts that Maciver’s eligibility as a deputy governorship candidate alongside Sylva is null and void ab initio. The group is seeking a decisive ruling from the Federal High Court in Abuja, requesting an order of perpetual injunction to restrain INEC from recognizing Maciver and Sylva as having a legitimate running mate for the 2023 Bayelsa State Governorship Election.
The legal challenge raises significant questions about the process of candidate selection, eligibility, and the adherence to constitutional requirements. As the legal proceedings unfold, political observers and citizens alike will be closely watching to see how the court’s decision could impact the dynamics of the upcoming election. The case underscores the crucial role of legal institutions in ensuring the integrity and legitimacy of the electoral process, ultimately shaping the course of democratic governance in Bayelsa State.