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Court hears Sylva’s joinder application today

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Justice Gladys Olotu of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed today to hear an application filed by Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State seeking to be joined as a necessary party in the legal action instituted before the court by Mr. Henry Dickson.

It will be recalled that the court had, January 19, issued an order of mandamus, compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to publish the name of Mr. Dickson as the flag-bearer of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the February 11 guberna-torial election in the state.

The order was sequel to an ex parte application  filed before the court on January 17 by Mr. Dickson.

Though the electoral body, ab initio, left the gubernatorial slot of PDP vacant, in view of subsisting court cases over who should be the authentic candidate of the party for the said election, it, however, subsequently included Dickson’s name in its list following an interim injunction issued by Justice Olotu, mandating it to comply with the order, pending the determination of the motion on notice.

Governor Sylva had earlier gone before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the same High Court to challenge the gubernatorial primaries that PDP conducted in his state on November 19.

He contended that in view of a previous primary election held in the state in January 2011, where he emerged victorious, it would amount to an act of illegality for the party to forward a fresh name or governorship aspirant to INEC when he was still alive and had not withdrawn his candidacy as stipulated in the Electoral Act.

Although the Abuja Division of the appellate court on January 7 dismissed an appeal PDP lodged against the suit, Sylva still took the case before the Supreme Court, pleading it to affirm him as the authentic candidate of the party for the coming poll.

Meanwhile, at the resumed sitting on Dickson’s suit yesterday, lead counsel to Sylva, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), indicated the intention of his client to be joined as a party in the matter.

He accused Dickson of hoodwinking the court into granting him the ex parte order, alleging that material facts pertaining to the nitty-gritty of the case were concealed from the trial court.

In opposition to Sylva’s request to be joined, counsel to Mr. Dickson, Mr. Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), asked for a short adjournment, noting that even if the court was minded to allow the governor’s counsel to make the application orally, the other party was statutorily afforded seven days within which to respond.

After a protracted argument before the court, yesterday, Dickson withdrew his preliminary objection to the joinder application by Sylva, and trial Justice adjourned the matter till today.

Drawing the attention of the trial judge to the pending suit before the apex court, Fagbemi said: “My Lord, this matter is far more than what the plaintiff has told this court. We are convinced that if all the facts were brought to the attention of this court, that ex parte order would not have been made.

“However, what is clear at this stage is that the use to which the plaintiff sought to put that order was far beyond your contemplation when you granted it.”

Applicant’s counsel, Fagbemi, accused Dickson of employing delay tactics upon securing what he termed “the extraordinary order of mandamus.”


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