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Bayelsa House shuns court order on SIEC commissioner

By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—Bayelsa State House of Assembly yesterday defied a court order asking it to suspend the resolution for the removal of a commissioner in the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), Mr. Banabas Edure, over non-eligibility by screening his replacement, Mr. Prefa Akporyi Freedom, as a member of the commission.

A Yenagoa High Court had earlier granted an order restraining the House from screening a replacement for the sacked Barnabas Edure.

Edure had dragged the House to court to stop his illegal removal from the electoral commission based on allegations that he had been impeached as a local government chairman and was, therefore, not qualified to hold the sensitive post of an SIEC member.

Ordering  Edure’s removal, the House of Assembly had argued that the indictment of the SIEC member with his removed from office as Chairman of the Sagbama local government council April 6, 2006, following the report of a panel which found him guilty of negligence of duty, could not serve in a position of trust.

Governor Timipre Sylva few days ago complied with the resolution of the House and later forwarded the name of Mr. Prefa Akponyi Freedom, an indigene of Agbere town in Sagbama local government area, to the House for screening and confirmation as a replacement for the removed Banabas Edure.

But the court, presided over by Justice R. Ajuwa, issued an order on the motion presented before it by Edure, asking that his removal over his purported impeachment in 2006 as Chairman of Sagbama local government area, on alleged misconduct was illegal, be set aside until the issue of non-eligibility was determined by law.

Justice Ajuwa said in the ruling that, “The order is hereby issued restraining the respondent from giving effect to the purported removal of the applicant and/or in any manner abridging the rights, privileges and duties of the applicant as a member of Bayelsa State SIEC or otherwise preventing the applicant as a member from performing his statutory duties.”

As a member of BSIEC or appointing any person in the place of the applicant pending the determination of the motion on notice.”

However, hours after the court order, the House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Werinipre Seibarugu, commenced the screening of the commissioner nominee, Mr. Prefa Akponyi Freedom, to replace the embattled SIEC member from the same area.

The legislators had asked the nominee for clarifications on his tax clearance and perceived inconsistencies on his academic certificates before clearing him, even though the court order was silent on the issue.


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