Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Tuesday, vacated the order nullifying the candidacy of Chief Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State.
Earlier, a Federal High Court in Abuja had disqualified Sylva as candidate of the APC in the November 11 governorship election.
The high court had declared that Sylva was not qualified to run in the November poll because if he wins and is sworn in, he would spend more than eight years in office as governor of the state.
The court while citing the case of Marwa vs Nyako at the Supreme Court, held that the drafters of the country’s constitution stated that nobody should be voted for as governor more than twice and that the parties to the suit agreed that Sylva was voted into office two times.
It further stated that the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Marwa vs Nyako that nobody can expand the constitution or its scope, saying if Sylva was allowed to contest the next election, it means a person can contest as many times as he wishes.
The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2023 was filed on June 13, 2023 by Deme Kolomo, a member of the APC.
Following the court ruling, the Independent National Electoral Commission excluded Sylva’s name and that of his running mate, Joshua Maciver, from the list of contestants of the November 11 exercise.
The list signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, had the column for the names of APC candidate and his running mate left blank with remarks, “Court order”
The situation had thrown the supporters of APC into anxiety, with many comparing it to how the party was prevented from governing the state after winning the 2019 governorship election.
But Justice Binta Zubairu, in a ruling on Tuesday, held that the lower court erred in having assumed jurisdiction in the matter on grounds that the plaintiff at the Federal High Court lacked the necessary locus standi to initiate the suit.
Zubairu held that having not participated in the primary election that produced Sylva, Kolomo had no justification to file the suit.
The appellate court said the issue of jurisdiction is fundamental in an election matter, and since the lower court had no jurisdiction in the first place, all actions taken in the matter are declared a nullity.
The appellate court held that once a judgment is found to have been delivered without jurisdiction, no matter how sound it may be, it is an exercise in futility.
The appellate court subsequently voided the decision of the lower court.