In a significant legal development, the Federal High Court in Abuja has issued a ruling disqualifying Chief Timipre Sylva, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from participating in the forthcoming November 11 election in Bayelsa State.
The ruling, delivered on Monday by Justice Donatus Okorowo, carries significant implications for the political landscape in Bayelsa. Justice Okorowo’s decision hinged on the interpretation of the 1999 constitution as amended, and its provisions regarding term limits for governors.
Justice Okorowo emphasized that Chief Timipre Sylva, having previously served as governor and having been sworn in twice, would contravene the constitution if allowed to run again for the gubernatorial position. Chief Sylva’s previous five-year tenure as governor of the state raised concerns about exceeding the permissible limit of eight years in office.
Drawing on legal precedent, Justice Okorowo referenced the case of Marwa vs Nyako, decided by the Supreme Court, which established that the constitution clearly stipulates that no individual can be elected as governor more than two times. In this instance, all parties involved acknowledged that Chief Timipre Sylva had held the office of governor twice.
The judge underlined the Supreme Court’s position that the constitution’s scope could not be expanded or altered by individuals to suit their ambitions. Allowing Chief Sylva to contest the upcoming election would, in effect, set a precedent that could undermine the constitution’s term limit provisions.
This ruling is poised to reshape the political dynamics in Bayelsa State as it sends a clear message about the importance of upholding constitutional provisions, particularly concerning term limits, in the Nigerian political landscape. The disqualified candidate and his party, the APC, are expected to respond to this significant legal setback as the election draws nearer.