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Bayelsa Guber: Potential Disqualification Looms Over APC Candidate Timipre Sylva

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ABUJA, Nigeria — A legal storm is brewing ahead of the Bayelsa State governorship election on November 11, 2023, threatening to disqualify the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Timpre Sylva, and his running mate, Joshua Maciver.

The Incorporated Trustees of the Trustfield Empowerment Initiative has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday,  August 2, 2023, against Sylva, Maciver, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, claiming that Maciver’s ongoing jail term for a criminal offense renders the APC’s governorship candidate without a valid running mate for the election.

The plaintiff in the suit called out INEC for allowing Maciver to be selected as a running mate despite his legal troubles, stating in the legal documents:

“The provisions of Sections 175(1), 182(1)(d) & (2)(c) and 187(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly stated that anybody having been convicted for a criminal offense with a sentence of imprisonment, without Presidential Pardon, is not eligible to be recognized or listed by INEC, which MacIver is affected by these provisions.”

According to the Trustfield Empowerment Initiative, the decision to recognize Maciver as Sylva’s running mate is at odds with the Nigerian Constitution, rendering the candidacy “null and void ab initio.”

The plaintiff’s statement further reads: “On the heels of these we are unequivocally stating here that in view of the conviction of MacIver for a sentence of imprisonment, he cannot be a running mate of Sylva who is contesting for the office of Governor of Bayelsa State in the 2023 Bayelsa State Governorship Election, hence Sylva does not have a running mate as submitted to INEC.”

In a strong appeal, the plaintiff prayed the Federal High Court to issue “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the INEC from recognizing MacIver and Sylva as not having a running mate for the 2023 Bayelsa State Governorship Election.”

This potentially groundbreaking suit could have profound implications on the upcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State.

If the court upholds the plaintiff’s arguments, it could lead to the disqualification of the APC’s governorship candidate, which would not only impact the electoral competition but could also spur a broader debate on the legal requirements for political candidacy in Nigeria.

The APC and INEC have yet to comment publicly on the legal action, and the case will be closely watched in the weeks ahead as the electoral clock continues to tick towards the November 11 election date.

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