Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, will today open his defence in response to the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Timipre Sylva, challenging his re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on January 9, 2016.
This is after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday, closed its case before the State Governorship election tribunal sitting in Abuja.
The electoral body had told the tribunal that the election that produced Governor Seriake Dickson was free, fair and was held in a substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.
INEC’s lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), called two witnesses, who testified to the credibility of the election. In the testimony of Justine Adie, a civil servant, who was the Electoral Officer in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, the January 9, 2016 was free, fair and in conformity with the electoral law.
He told the tribunal, under cross examination by counsel to Dickson, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), that no report of violence was recorded during the election.
Adie further admitted that the agents of various political parties – including the APC signed the results of the election.
That before the January 9election, INEC met with the various political parties in the state and other stakeholders and agreed on the date.
However, under cross examination by counsel to the petitioners, Chief Sebastian Hon (SAN), the witness said he did not visit all the 198 polling units in the local government area.
He also admitted that the entries and signatories in the results sheets were not done in his presence.
Another witness, Alex Okorie, an Electoral Officer for Sagbama Local Government Area, also testified to the credibility of the election.
The APC and Sylva are challenging the election of Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the December 2015 and January 2016 governorship polls that were conducted on the ground of non-compliance and violence.
The petitioners are challenging the validity of the election over alleged widespread violence and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
It is now the turn of Dickson, through his legal team anchored by Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), to call his witnesses to defend his mandate.
He is expected to call about 3,000 witnesses in the next seven days allotted by the tribunal.