Bayelsa: Sylva accuses PDP of ‘judicial fraud’
Written by Ihuoma Chiedozie and Kunle Falayi
The legal battle over the Peoples Democratic Party gubernatorial ticket for the governorship election in Bayelsa State commenced at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Thursday with Governor Timipreye Sylva accusing the party of "judicial fraud."
Sylva, through his counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, informed the five-man panel of the court, headed by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, that the party used fraudulent means to invoke its jurisdiction in order to stall the hearing of the substantive matter at the trial court, the Federal High Court, Abuja.
After Sylva had obtained an order of an Abuja Federal High Court, presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, on November 16, against the continuation of the governorship primaries in Bayelsa State, scheduled for November 19, the PDP had gone ahead to hold the election, and on November 21, appealed the order of the Federal High Court at the Court of Appeal, thereby successfully staying proceedings in the case when the substantive matter was to be heard on November 22.
Fagbemi informed the panel on Thursday that, in filing the application for stay of proceeding at the Court of Appeal, instead of the Federal High Court, the PDP fraudulently gave the impression that the record of proceedings of the lower court had been transmitted to the appellate court by its (Federal High Court) registry.
Fagbemi noted that the PDP, through its National Legal Adviser and counsel, Chief Olusola Oke, created such impression, thereby causing Sylva’s counsel, (Fagbemi) to concede to the stay of proceedings applied for by the party.
"The appellants gave the impressions that the record of proceeding at the court below was compiled and transmitted by its (Federal High Court’s) registry, whereas their record was a record compiled and transmitted by the appellants themselves.
"And because they made it seem like it was record compiled and transmitted by the court below, we had no choice than to concede.
"It is by fraud we are here without first getting a stay."
The head of the panel, Bulkachuwa, told Fagbemi to file the neccessary application for consideration, if he had an issue with the court record compiled and submitted by the appellants.
Bulkachuwa thereafter adjourned the matter to December 12, 2011, for hearing.
Meanwhile, a group, the Ethnic Minorities and Indigenous Rights Organisation of Africa, has warned that the crisis in the PDP in Bayelsa State might assume a national dimension which would threaten Nigeria’s democracy.
The group said in a statement on Thursday, that the crisis does not portend good fortune for minority interest.
EMIROA said, "The lingering crisis over who contests the forthcoming governorship election in the state is a serious threat to the present democratic dispensation in the country. It is not clear what the operatives of the PDP at the centre intend to benefit by denying the incumbent governor, Timipre Sylva, a chance to seek re-nomination."
Source: Punch, 2nd December 2011.
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